Ahead of his concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall next month, we asked Pat Metheny about his ‘From This Place’ album, his Side Eye project and what we can expect from his show on March 2.
Three songs from ‘From This Place’ – which include ‘Wide and Far’, ‘You Are’ and ‘American Undefined’ are already out on Spotify.
ASL365: Hi Pat Metheny, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Welcome to Singapore and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. What are you most looking forward to doing on your trip to the region?
Pat Metheny: Singapore is such an interesting place and I love going there. Each time I have been I have enjoyed just walking around and exploring it. But the highlight is always the concert hall there. I am lucky to be able to play all over the world and the Esplanade is in my top 3, as the best concert hall I have ever played.
ASL365: You’ve said that Wes Montgomery is your biggest influence growing up. What is your favourite track/composition from him?
Pat Metheny: The record Smokin at the Half Note, the track is “If you could see me now”. But that said, everything!
ASL365: How about your favourite Beatles and Beatles song?
Pat Metheny: That is almost impossible. In the best way I can imagine, their whole 9 year story seems like one long song.
ASL365: What was your first ever guitar and how old were you when you decided that you want to learn to play the instrument?
Pat Metheny: My first guitar was a Gibson ES140 that I got for 60 dollars with money from my paper route. I was 11 when I got interested.
ASL365: What do you reckon has been your biggest achievement or happiest moment in your 46-years music career?
Pat Metheny: I feel lucky to have had the privilege to live as a musician. The currency that I trade in is based on the actual reality of what music presents and demands. Everything I have learned along the way has been through the prism of what music has illuminated to me.
ASL365: Besides jazz, what sort of music do you enjoy listening to?
Pat Metheny: I am not a huge fan of the whole idea of “genre” or styles of music kind of to start with. To me, music is one big universal thing. Both as a listener and as a player, the musicians who I have admired the most are the ones who have a deep reservoir of knowledge and insight not just about music, but about life in general and are able to illuminate the things that they love in sound. When it is a musician who can do that on the spot, as an improviser, that is usually my favorite kind of player.
I feel like I am a musician in this broad sense first. And all the subsets of the way music often gets talked about in terms of the words people use to describe music is basically just a cultural/political discussion that I have found that I am really not that interested in in the same way I am interested in the spirit and sound of music itself.
See also: Twenty-time Grammy Award-winning jazz guitar virtuoso Pat Metheny returns to the Esplanade Singapore this March!
ASL365: If you could go back in time to relive one moment in music history, what would it be and why?
Pat Metheny: I am more of a “what’s next?” type person than anyone who would want to look backwards.
ASL365: ‘You Are’ is such a texturally intriguing piece. Very ambient in a sort of way. Tell us – what was the inspiration for this track, and what musical direction do you have for this new album?
Pat Metheny: In the same way I described the Beatles, I see my own thing more like one long book with each period and piece functioning as chapters along the way. The idea is to keep the plot moving and I have so many interests in various aspects of music that I keep trying to find new forms. That particular piece is notable because it is a 9 bar phrase that wraps around itself. I don’t think I have ever done that before.
ASL365: Is there a story behind the design of ‘From This Place’? For instance; Why the photo of the tornado and the mirror-image words?
Pat Metheny: My very first memory is of the town next to my town in Missouri being completely destroyed by a tornado. I grew up with tornados. The image represents that but also this odd moment of disruption in our place.
ASL365: I understand that you have a project/playing environment called ‘Side Eye’. Tell us more about this and what has the experience been like working with new and upcoming musicians?
Pat Metheny: I have been lucky to be around musicians both much older and much younger than me all along the way. It is an important part of the whole language that we share with each other our various outlooks on how to be musicians. I am always looking for kindred spirits along the way.
ASL365: What can we look forward to hearing at your show on March 2?
Pat Metheny: The concept this time is simple – to put together a really exceptional group of musicians who are able to play anything from at any point in my career. This is an excellent live band, each person on the bandstand is a really great player.
We have been having a great time together. We are playing lots of music of mine that I haven’t played for a while and Linda (May Han Oh) and Gwilym (Simcock) really understand the range of my thing across the entire spectrum. And Antonio remains one of the greatest drummers of this or any era. The concerts are very long and cover a LOT of territory. I am sure people who have followed my thing over a long time will enjoy it, and by the same token someone who is really not that familiar with any of it will too.
ASL365: Thank you so much Pat Metheny. We look forward to having a great time on March 2!
An Evening with Pat Metheny, with Antonio Sanchez, Linda May Han Oh & Gwilym Simcock will take place at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 2 March 2020 as part of Esplanade’s Mosaic Music Series.
Tickets are available via SISTIC.
Special thanks to the Esplanade and Esplanade Presents: Mosaic.
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