Pat Metheney brings his Unity Band to Annapolis

| December 15, 2014 | 2 Comments

Pat Metheny’s versatility is almost nearly without peer on any instrument. Over the years, he has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman to Herbie Hancock to Jim Hall to Milton Nascimento to David Bowie. Metheny’s body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras, and ballet pieces, with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical.

In 2013 Metheny received word that the readers of DownBeat magazine had voted to induct him into its Hall of Fame. Not only is Metheny the youngest member, but he is also only the fourth jazz guitarist to be chosen for that honor, joining Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, and Wes Montgomery.

Last month, Rams Head On Stage brought Metheney and the Unity Band to Maryland Hall. The Unity Band performance was an incredible mix of talent and instruments. If you ever wanted to hear label-defying jazz, this was the show for you.  When Metheney says he will play–he plays. The show started promptly at 8pm and went on until just before 10:30 in the newly renovated Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Metheney (whom I had never seen live) came out with the most bizarre instrument I had ever seen. It was as if a guitar, zither, harp, and dulcimer got together and had a kid—I later found out it is properly called a 42-string Pikasso guitar which was custom made for Metheney. It is obvious that he is a master of many instruments and combined five uber talented musicians to play some of his older work along with breaking ground to his newer stuff.

The coming year promises to be equally exciting. As Metheny says: “The Unity Band record and tour was life changing for me, and I really wanted to find a way to keep it going and take it to the next level. One night, I woke up with the tantalizing idea of taking the concept of ‘unity’ even further. With this next project, I envisioned building a platform capable of addressing the entire spectrum of things I have done over the years, from Bright Size Life to Secret Story, from my Group projects to the Orchestrion, and more, all in one place.” He continues: “With this incredible lineup of musicians—Chris Potter, Ben Williams, Antonio Sanchez, and the addition of multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi—just about anything is possible”

The stage set was interesting and to be honest, I am not really sure what it signified or how it worked–but it did. Unfortunately, the bells and whistles (literally) were unveiled later in the show after the time we were allowed to photograph. There was what appeared to ba an apothecary shelf with illuminated bottles, a standalone drum that was played remotely (remote via the sound board?) with itms dropped or dragged on the surface.  Very bizarre, but also incredibly intriguing and it worked!

Metheney played two very long sets. He came on stage and got right into it and one song flowed into the next. An hour later, he stopped to breather, say hello, and explain what just happened, introduce the band, and explain what was going to happen. The nearly sold out crowd was enthralled–even the jazz neophytes were appreciative of the music; but the long-time fans were beyond thrilled!  Metheney came to Annapolis, he saw, and he conquered!

All images © 2014 Glenn A. Miller / Glenn A. Miller Photography for Eye On Annapolis.


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Category: Entertainment, Events, LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT, NEWS

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.