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Essential Metheny

Pat Metheny Group: Still Life Talking, 1987

Favourite album ever. The opening section of "Minuano (six-eight)" is still the most sonically rich recording I've ever heard. The beautiful closing track, "In Her Family", brings back memories of reflective moments in college doing homework in the a.m. hours.

Pat Metheny Group: Pat Metheny Group, 1977

This album undeniably anchors Pat as one of the essential contributors to the history of jazz, a fact that could only be disputed by those who still bemoan the invention of electricity. Side one features two of Pat's greatest compositions, "San Lorenzo" and "Phase Dance". Side two gets into more exploratory territory with the two "April" tunes, bookended by the upbeat tunes "Jaco" and "Lone Jack". It's pure brilliance from start to finish.

Pat Metheny Group: Quartet, 1996

A truly amazing album. Gripping atonality in "Dismantling Utopia". Wonderful compositions "When We Were Free", "Montevideo", "Take Me There", "Seven Days", "Language of Time". Amazing telepathic improv in "Badland". Almost entirely acoustic, and superbly recorded.

Buy these next

Pat Metheny Group: Offramp, 1981

Pat Metheny Group: We Live Here, 1995

Both these albums caused controversy because they used technology that had not yet been accepted in the mainstream jazz world. Offramp introduces Pat's now-unmistakable voice on the Roland GR300 guitar synthesizer, possibly the most expressive electronic instrument ever created. We Live Here makes extensive use of "hip" drum machine loops, capturing the feel of the mid-90's Miami street beat. To the open-minded listener, both these albums convey how new technology and sounds can be used to make music with substance. These two albums are also counterparts in that the latter answers the question posed by the former.

Pat Metheny Group: Travels, 1982

Pat Metheny Group: The Road to You, 1993

Both these live albums feature several songs that have not been released elsewhere, as well as live interpretations of some of the group's best songs. Be sure to take note of "Half-Life of Absolution", a stunning fourteen-minute trip through varying degrees of density.

Pat Solo

Pat Metheny: Secret Story, 1992

This album took a long time to grow on me, but I eventually "got it". The music reflects the evolution of a deep relationship, from beginning to end. It represents joy, sadness, passion, and a sense of travel and faraway places. "Finding and Believing" is perhaps the best realization of Pat's concept of density in music, and is an amazing vocal workout as well. The sound quality is excellent, and the musical styles are diverse.

Pat Metheny: Zero Tolerance For Silence, 1994

You just can't ignore this one. Some people dismissed it as a contractual-obligation type of album, or self-indulgence on Pat's part. However, Pat has made it quite clear that he is 100% serious about this music, and that it represents the very roots of all the more accessible music that he creates. I listened to it many times before I really connected with what is going on in the frenetic washes of guttural guitar abuse that comprise this album. Seeing Pat live helps get the idea across. Listening to it very late at night while stressed, depressed, and totally strung out on caffeine also helps.