When: Thu., Jan. 26, 8 p.m. 2017
The long-running guitar titan Pat Metheny has spent the past five decades dazzling audiences with an idiosyncratic blend of technical proficiency and experimental wanderlust. Always a devoted traditionalist with an appetite for the outré, Metheny's hugely influential forays into jazz fusion have long since confirmed his reputation as one of the genre's remaining pioneers.
Metheny's early training began as a sideman for a bevy of geniuses performing in a wide swath of disciplines, ranging from Charlie Haden to Joni Mitchell to Ornette Coleman. Early solo records featured collaborations with the legendary Jaco Pastorius on bass, planting the seeds for the protean genre experiments that would become the calling card of his soon-to-be-formed original band. With the formation of the Pat Metheny Group in 1977, the guitarist reached the height of his commercial and critical acclaim.
With that ensemble, he released a series of well-received and influential records, including 1979's bona-fide classic American Garage and the terrific live document Travels. Along with fellow travelers like guitarist Bill Frisell, Metheny has long been thought of in jazz circles as a sort of Trojan horse, both effective enough to broaden audiences and not compromise his formalist impulses in doing so. Recent years have seen Metheny combining his improvisational tendencies with an abiding interest in the theatrical world and Latin jazz, as evidenced by recent collaborations with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre and the terrific solo record The Sign of Four.
This week, the ten-time Grammy winner brings a full band of accomplished multi-instrumentalists, comprising a diverse lineup featuring longtime Mexican-American drummer Antonio Sanchez and new members from Malaysia and Australia (bassist Linda Oh) and the UK (pianist Gwilym Simcock). Following a year in which nothing feels remotely assured, it is prudent to catch this one-of-a-kind icon at the peak of his powers. —Timothy Bracy