The Unity Sessions (2016)

Pat Metheny

Maestro of maestros, Pat Metheny decided that reaching the frontier of turning 60 years old was a great moment for taking stock without losing sight of the future. He looks forward on the The Unity Sessions with his band, while simultaneously taking a musical journey through his career par excellence, a blend of tradition and cutting edge captured by the magic of his hands and talent as a composer. The movie was released last September; now in a more manageable CD format, he provides a soundtrack for the spring of 2016 that clears a hard-won path in the rain. 

The Unity Band is Metheny's new adventure for this decade, one where he wants his guitar to play on an equal footing with the saxophone, one of his favourite instruments. And specifically with the saxophone of Chris Potter, who Metheny confesses he has been a big fan of since the '90s. A fiery wind section fuelled by his inseparable percussionist of many years, Antonio Sánchez, and Ben Williams, a promising young talent who impressed Metheny with his playing on bass. An overwhelming quartet now expanded to a 'super quintet' by incorporating Giulio Carmassi, one of those artists they call ‘total’, multimedia and multi- instrumentalist.

That obsession with clarinets and trumpets continues in 2016 with the virtually simultaneous release of The Unity Sessions and another album featuring his name, although not in the foreground this time:
Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny is a means of showing his gratitude to the Vietnamese musician for the Grammys won in 2002 and 2005.

The eclectic jazz of Cuong Vu hardly leaves any space for the creations of the Canadian luthier Linda Manzer, whom Pat Metheny remains loyal to. The trumpeter inhabits a post-industrial world of cold sounds that have nothing to do with the sound and intensity that Unity transmits on, for example, the duel with Potter on Roof Dogs, one of the climaxes during the next-to-last of his characteristically lengthy live tours.  The thing is that perfection has a secret: before recording it, they rehearsed for around 150 nights on the trot...

A tour that, of course, included that magic moment of the maestro solo with his guitar, shining bright in the light of a single spotlight. Phase Dance… The Sun in Montreal… Last Train Home… a medley lasting a little more than 10 minutes to fit on our particular jukebox. Sometimes all you need is six strings to be thrilled.  Beauty is a fragile creature hidden inside its wooden body.