Current Issue Details

Buy Current Issue

Reviews > CDs

Published: 2012/12/06
by Ron Hart

Pat Metheny
Unity Band


In the last 31 years, jazz guitar supreme Pat Metheny collabroated with many great saxophone players, from Kenny Garrett to Ornette Coleman to Dave Liebman to Josh Redman to Donald Harrison.

However, the axe master’s latest Nonesuch endeavor Unity Band marks the first time a group he has incorporated the employ of a tenor saxophonist in the front lines of a quartet he’s led since his titanic meeting with reed legends Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman on his ECM masterpiece 80/81. For Unity, Metheny brought in the lungs of Chris Potter, with whom he previously worked on longtime drummer Antonio Sanchez’s solo debut from 2007 Migration, to fill in for the dearly departed tandem of Brecker and Redman. And with new school bass beast Ben Williams joining Sanchez on the back end, this exciting new Pat Metheny Group revisits that 80/81 theology and updates it for the 21st century.

Named after a church group that would play on summer Sundays while growing up in Missouri, Unity Band indeed harks back to the style Pat was mining on classic early 80s albums as Wichita and Offramp. And as illustrated on such highlights as “Roofdogs”, “Leaving Town” and “Breakdealer”, these four personalities come together in such classic Metheny fashion you’d be hard pressed to believe this isn’t some unearthed treasure from his ECM years but an album of all-new material—that is, of course, until you get to “Signals”, a looped-out extension of the guitarist’s Orchestrion project that brings the LP very much into the here and now. And the interplay between Potter and Metheny is arguably the most harmonically intuitive relationship the guitarist has enjoyed since the Redman/Brecker days, most notably on opening track “New Year”, where the melding of brass and steel glide alongside one another like a perfect formation of geese flying through the air.

If you have a hankering for Pat Metheny’s distinct, legend-making style in the quartet setting with his endless vocabulary of notes and scales leading the charge, Unity Band was undoubtedly worth the 30 year wait.

Show 2 Comments