17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I’m not so sure.,
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This review is from: Kin (<-->) (Audio CD)
I’d been looking forward to this release for some time. It’s been 9 years since we heard Pat Metheny with a full group alongside him and while comparisons of this new constellation with the erstwhile Pat Metheny Group may be a bit unfair they’re simply unavoidable.
On the whole I think it’s a decent album. I can definitely appreciate the artistry that went into it. I’m just not moved by it though, not in the way past Metheny group albums have moved me. I’m not so sure it merits all the hype and breathless praise that seems to be whirling around on social media about it.
The first thing I noticed about the album was the way it sounds (obvs). I’m not a musician and I’m no expert on sound engineering but I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s down to the way it was mixed, presumably to give the recording a more ‘live’ feel.
It works and on the plus side, there’s a feeling of immediacy to the album. It literally sounds like the group is playing in my living room. On the downside though, the luxuriance and diversity of the soundscapes provided to us by previous recordings are not present here. The sound also gets a bit messy in places. Unlike with the PMG where I would always get the sense that, even in improvised parts, every single note played was carefully placed where it was placed for a reason, I don’t always get that sense with this group.
Don’t get me wrong; these are all excellent musicians. Sanchez is literally jaw-dropping and I’m a huge fan of Chris Potter. But does the whole add up to more than the sum of its parts? Do they actually make a cohesive unit? Do they have real chemistry together? I’m not so sure. At times I can’t make out whether I’m listening to a Chris Potter album or a Pat Metheny one. With all due respect to Potter, is that good?
Overall though, for me, the crucial element of the main Metheny oeuvre that’s very conspicuous in its absence here is Lyle Mays. As another reviewer on Amazon put it: “In no small way Lyle made the Group what it was; he was the catalyst for what allowed PMG to be at once so accessible and yet so ethereal. Lyle was Pat's collaborator in chief, the heart that complemented Pat's heady arrangements, the purveyor of unexpected twists and turns, a gentle eloquent tour-de-force in his own right, and the lead sheet for Pat's best peregrinations as a soloist.”
I couldn't agree more.
I don’t know what the situation is between Metheny and Mays and I wouldn’t dare to speculate, but I hope with all my heart that it’s not terminal. Lyle is Pat's musical soul-mate. As great as Pat is on his own or with other musicians - and he is great indeed - in my humble opinion, he is at his greatest when he’s with Lyle. 2005's "The Way Up" is still one of my favourite albums ever.
I wasn’t particularly enchanted by the Unity Band when I first heard it. A ground-breaking idea, sure, but I found it too sonically threadbare and lacking of any heart. The Unity Group definitely takes things up a notch - vocalist & multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi is a most welcome addition - but for me, it just doesn’t quite hit the spot. In my substantial catalogue of Metheny albums it rates nowhere near the top.
Favourite songs: "Sign Of The Season", an epic, hypnotic 10 min delight; the beautiful almost mournful ballad "Born" and "We Go On".
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Feb 2014 21:28:45 GMT
Jeremy T. Twomey says:
Your review is very accurate and I feel the same I have posted my thoughts also I would love to know what has happened to Pat and Lyle.
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2014 17:00:27 GMT
Thank you for your comments. It's always nice to know one is not alone.
Posted on 14 Feb 2014 23:30:39 GMT
Mario Toni Belamariś says:
I'm with you on this, also! Too loud and too dry!
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2014 00:35:37 GMT
Thank you for your comments, Mario Toni. I'm a huge Pat Metheny fan and have been for many years. I just don't feel that this is him at his best. Full disclosure though: since posting my review, the title tune "Kin (<-->)" has kinda grown on me. I still don't rate the album as a whole any higher though.
Posted on 17 Feb 2014 06:43:22 GMT
Haven't yet acquired this one, but it is in the mail. Perhaps I could add something to your discussion once I've formed an opinion on it. But after "The Way Up", I just could not see any way up for the PMG. It was, in my humble opinion, perfect and therefore unsurpassable. I'm hoping that with the Unity Group, Pat's at least found a way sideways. I'm a great fan of Chris Potter from his Dave Holland Quintet/Big Band work, but to think we won't see the stellar cast of Mays, Rodby, Vu and Maret together with Pat and Antonio again, is nothing short of heartbreaking...
In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2014 15:35:05 GMT
Thanks for your contribution to the discussion, B.K. I'd be really interested to learn what you think once you've listened and digested it. I agree with you wholeheartedly on "The Way Up". It was perfection for me also and I too found it difficult to see where the PMG could take things from there. Maybe that's why they decided to call it quits or at least (hopefully) take a step back for a while? I'd hate it if I never got to enjoy another new PMG album but at least we have the back catalogue to enjoy, right?
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Apr 2014 07:26:23 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 3 Apr 2014 07:55:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Apr 2014 08:59:08 BDT
I finally got my copy. I have to be honest, it didn't do too much for me on the first listen. But then it would have been wishful to think otherwise. The good stuff rarely takes first time. "The Way Up" was an exception to this rule for me as I immediately felt something with that record.
Putting "Kin"on for a second spin felt like a bit of a chore, but it sounded like a different disk to the one I originally listened to. Since then I've been listening to it continuously for a week.
It may not be quite on par with "The Way Up", but in my opinion, it's very close.
Pat's enduring partnership with Antonio Sanchez has no limits, and while I've been exposed to many great durmmers (Dave Wekl, Lenny White, Peter Erskine, Will Kennedy, Victor Lewis, Billy Kilson and many more..), seldom have I perceived such genius in a drummer.
I've read some professional reviews of Chris Potter's work, where in at least one instance the critic referred to him as an improvisation "monster". And I've tended to be in agreement on this with regard to some of his Dave Holland projects. The guy's an excellent technician, but sometimes seems to lack a bit of passion. In the PMUG Environment, l almost think he's found a means to express the previously absent "passion". To me he fits his role in the Unity Group like a glove, and brings Pat's sound more into the mainstream Jazz line. (Pat of course could have approached Kenny G when he was shopping for a saxophonist....)
"Sign of the Season" is the most "Way Up-ish"of the tracks and for now my favourite. But almost everything else is good. Something I've appreciated with some of Pat's recent works is that one can listen to the CD from start to finish and not feel the need to press the skip button. Unlike TWU, the music is quite varied, with some straight ahead, some soul, blues and even smoothe jazz sounds all in the mix. To me a very well rounded work.
So in conclusion, I'm tending to lean more towards the 4 and 5 - star reviews...
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Apr 2014 16:46:30 BDT
Pat Metheny with Kenny G? Ugh! Joke, right?
On the whole I agree with your assessment. After living with the CD for quite some time now, I have to admit it has grown on me a bit. I'm still minded to skip the first three tunes and start playing from "Sign Of The Season" but I'm sure I'll get over that eventually.
It's a pretty decent recording and probably Pat's best since "The Way Up". Where we diverge however is on your willingness to award it 4 -5 stars. I still can't lean that far. Not yet anyway.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts though. If you'll be seeing the Group later on this year during the UK part of their tour, enjoy!
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2014 07:51:09 BDT
LOL.. (I don't usually use these, but it makes me feel younger, so.... WTF??) Pat's contempt for the G-man is well documented as you most probably know...
Perhaps I'm more receptive to the record as I'm not really an out-and-out Metheny worshiper, only having tuned into PMG from "Imaginary Day" and the smoother "We Live Here" before that. I've always perceived an almost dominant "folk-jazz" element in PMG music, which is not a bad thing, but the sax just reinforces Pat's passion with a more "straight-ahead" feeling. Most of the other jazz I've grown up with has been dominated by great saxophonists (`Trane, Shorter, Mintzer, Watts, Bobby Watson, Brecker, Marienthal to name a few favorites...)
On seeing the group, I'll have to leave that to you. I don't think it's likely at the southern tip of the Darkest Continent. He WAS in Cape Town about 4 or 5 years ago when he was marketing "Day Trip", and I attended that concert. As far as I know, that was the first time he ventured into Africa. And in all likelihood, I expect the last..
But yes, I've enjoyed the discussion. Always good to touch bases with "Kin" from across the globe....
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