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First Circle

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The year 2013 has been a banner one for Pat Metheny. After being awarded his 20th Grammy, for Unity Band, and the release of his critically acclaimed recording of Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, Vol. 20, 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 ... Read more in Amazon's Pat Metheny Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 July 1988)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B0000261UH
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,791 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Forward March 2:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Yolanda, You Learn 4:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. The First Circle 9:16Album Only
Listen  4. If I Could 7:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Tell It All 7:59Album Only
Listen  6. End of the Game 8:02Album Only
Listen  7. Más Allá (Beyond) 5:40£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Praise 4:18£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Recorded 1984, at Power Station, New York

Pat Metheny - (guitars), Lyle Mays - (trumpet, piano, stnthesizers, organ,
bells), Steve Rodby - (basses), Pedro Aznar - (voice, guitar, percussion),
Paul Wertico - (drums)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Sept. 2008
Format: Audio CD
So curious that every other PMG release has plenty of reviewers and more or less across the board 5/5 stars, but this one seems to have gone unnoticed. I would hesitate to say that this is my favourite PMG album because there are so many other contenders but, it does include my unreservedly favourite PMG track, namely the eponymous 'First Circle'.

The 'First Circle' is the third track on the album and it is such a perfect composition in so many ways that I don't know where to begin. With each new PMG release I listen to see if they have managed to equal or surpass it, but although I invariably love whatever they bring out next, and although I might hear First Circle like resonances here and there, I've still to hear anything that captures the full perfection.

Firstly, there is the form of the thing. We start with a complex handclapped rhythm against which is overlayed the main theme, quite gently the first time through. This then drops away to reveal a finger-picked guitar part that quite simply has no key and no time signature. It is an absolutley miraculous piece of composition within a composition that I would defy any guitarist to transcribe. I've heard nothing like it before or since. This then breaks out with Pats wicked right hand strumming technique taking over and we're back to the main theme, but building in power, layer by layer, with each iteration. Space is then made for a quintessential Lyle Mays piano solo. Neither too long or too short, not a note out of place. This gives way to a final round or two of the main theme, sung and strummed with great joy and gusto, and with huge flying horns, pounding tympani and trademark whirling synths all bought to an abrupt and startling halt.
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Format: Audio CD
This is PM going for the cash. Cannot take this and subsequent recordings seriously, and so disappointed attending live concerts from this era that I walked out on several.

Great musician, spread way too thin.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This Vinyl LP is just brilliant. What a player is Pat. Carry on playing your guitar this way until your fingers fall off your hands and please do an England tour soon.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 59 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
At a Loss For Words... 17 Nov. 2000
By Noah - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There are few works of art, music or film out there of which I can honestly say I am simply at a loss for adequate words to describe. "First Circle" is a monumental work full of joyful energy and an indescribably heartfelt melodiousness which a true fan of music can never forget.
As other reviewers have already stated, the title track "The First Circle" is certainly one of the greatest musical compositions and recordings of the past century. The power and passion of this piece, as it progresses gracefully from a series of simple handclaps to its explosive and magical climax, takes ones heart and soul on an unforgettable flight. Enough said...you simply have to hear this track to believe it. Followed immediately afterwards by a gorgeous guitar and synthesizer ballad "If I Could", the power of the title song is again multiplied.
This is Metheny's first album to utilize vocals so predominately (although he experimented with them on other recordings such as "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls" and "Offramp"). The effect is stunning and the vocals, sung most of the time without words, become another essential ensemble instrument along with piano, synthesizers, guitars, drums and bass.
"Praise" concludes the album with a renewed confidence and exultation. What a pleasure to listen to an artist like Pat Metheny who, at the top of his form, finds excitement in expressing musically the positive aspects of the human experience. Bravo!!!
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Five or more if there is any 27 July 2005
By A. MAHMOUD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
i am from saudia i never been to the u.s.a (some guys will say good heavens) although i wish i did before things brock loss.i don't really how i bought this cd i didn't know any thing about pat niether any one of his group.i was looking for jazz cd (miles,coltrane.dizzy)while i was searching i found a list of great cds as the writer discribed it.i bicked this cd...i kind of liked the views of several persons,after that i began a journey with what i felt was my magic carpet to america ,europe,asia....every magical place i dreamed of and i couldn't go to (political or mostly fainancial reasons) anyway not pay this cd if you like it follow with (travels,secret story,offramp,pat metheny group,the road to u live,watercolors,as falls wichita...,new chautauqa,letter from home,the way up,bright size life,the falcon...and many more)

thanks pat & lyle & the rest of the gang at least you made it easy to run and dream in those tough times for everybody living hear on earth...lexusemalek@hotmail.com
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Wonderfully stunning album... 3 May 2003
By Ryan Schweitzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First Circle was the first album I listened to of Pat and his group, the local public library had a copy of it on casette that I first checked out about 15 years ago, and would check out several times afterward, until I went and bought the CD.
It is an absolutely beautiful and stunning album, save for the first track (Forward March), which is comical and amusing in it's own right (sounds like it was performed by a poorly-practiced & inept junior high marching band :) ).
IMO, the standout tracks on the album would have to be the title track, which builds up from a complex but rhythmical hand clap (which I actually sat down and figured out) to a wonderful breathtaking vista of sound, as well as Tell It All, which has almost a suspenseful, tense milieu to it, If I Could, which brings to mind a nice, star-lit summer night from the past on the edge of town, looking down at the lights of the city, and End of the Game, where the group does an excellent job in improvising.
Overall, I own about 2/3rds of Pat's albums, both as himself and with his group, and this one is my favorite (second being Still Life/Talking).
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Praise indeed 14 Nov. 2000
By Gavin Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This 1984 album was Pat's first to simulataneously release on LP and CD, and his last with ECM records. It was also his last CD to appear in AAD. (I'm fairly sure that all his Geffen recordings are in DDD.) Although this is excellently recorded like all ECM discs, it does mean that if ever Manfred Eicher is short of a penny or two, he could always remaster the Metheny back-catalogue.
The Pat Metheny Group had outgrown ECM. The first track is a stunning vote of confidence by Metheny in his audience -- very few artists would have the nerve to put such a discordant opening on an album whose general style is Milton Nascimento meets Yes meets Steely Dan (well, the instrumental bits, anyway!). The shadow of Wayne Shorter's 'Native Dancer' looms over this 'First Circle'. There are more Latin elements than in previous Metheny recordings. And percussionist/mumbler Nana Vasconcelos is replaced by Pedro Aznar, who has a higher-pitched and beautiful voice.
'First Circle' follows much of the formula of its studio predecessor, the outstanding 'Offramp'. Paul Wertico replaces Dan Gottlieb seamlessly on drums. Still hankering to be the Miles Davis of the guitar, Pat uses the trumpet voice of his synclavier sparingly.
The opening track is, as I said, ridiculous, a parody of drum majorette tunes. (I saw the group in concert at the Hammersmith Odeon when they were showcasing this album. This was the tune they used to open the concert. They marched onto the stage, Pat playing guitar, with each of the other band members playing either a percussion or brass instrument.) After less than three minutes of this raucous stuff, 'Forward March' ends abruptly and we're into the rocky 'Yolanda'.
To promote this album, ECM put out a pop video, with the band wandering around various whitewashed rooms to the sound of track 5, 'Tell it all'. Maybe it's just me, but I never felt the music matched the video at all. If I had to guess, it seemed as if the video had been made to go with 'Are you going with me?' from the 'Offramp' album.
'Mas Alla' is a beautiful Latin song, as other reviewers have said here. And then we're into the very hymnal 'Praise', where Lyle recalls his chorister days. Very uplifting, and a great Metheny solo ends the album.
As ever, this is Pat Metheny's optimistic brand of jazz. Hard to classify, but always intelligent, often beautiful, the music just soars!
And by the way, the Pat Metheny Songbook is the bargain of the century. Most, if not all, the songs from this album are in there, and you can play them on either guitar or piano. It has certainly got me returning to our unused piano.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful music to fill your heart 23 Nov. 1999
By ANDREW DOUKANARIS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
When I first played this album all those years ago I was driving thru some of Engalnds most fantastic scenery, namely the peak district. In normal circumstances the view would take your breath away. However, hearing First Circle and Mas Alla (beyond) was enough for me to forget the seven hour drive and the view. The solo elements by Lyle Mays and Pay Metheny are pure "anthems" for life long fans. Only "are you going with me" and "the longest summer" have the same effect - believe me I tried it some years later on the same journey. If you just getting into Mr Metheny this would be a great start. World music, world class talent and some really moving sounds
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