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on 26 June 2012
This is going to be up there amongst the best jazz CD's of 2012. Pat Metheny has always been an artist who has combined a catchy approach to music coupled with a degree of musical intelligence which, in my opinion, marks hims out as one of the finest jazz musicians of our time. Fans of his music will want to snap this offering up as it is pretty exceptional even for his own high standards.

In many respects this disc is a definition of where the contemporary jazz mainstream is today and features a quartet that includes saxophonist Chris Potter at his most Brecker-esque. On some tracks he picks up a soprano and a bass clarient and whilst I have heard him in more experimental form with the likes of Dave Douglas, he seems totally at home in this ensemble. As in the norm with recent Metheny discs, the drum chair is taken by the ever excellent and reliable Antonio Sanchez who lays down the solid rhythm which underpins some robust playing from Potter and Metheny. The band is rounded out by newcomer Ben Williams on bass who provides the kind of foundation you would expect from the likes of Christian McBride - a major new talent to jazz.

From the point of view of material, the record combines a good balance of offerings with "Roofdogs" being amongst my favourites. The band has quickly acquired it's own identity and with soloists of this calibre there is plenty to be getting the teeth into. In many ways, the sound recalls Michael Brecker's swanwong "Pilgrimage" albeit without a piano. However, the most fascinating track is "Signals" which features Metheny playing the orchestrion but which opens with 3 minutes of edge-of-the-seat free improvisation from the protagonists which is amongst some of the most compelling listening the guitarist has put down on record to my ears. The excitement at the resolution when the Morse code like theme comes in under Sanchez' odd-metre drum motif is electric and this track culminates in a style which is more redolent of the material played by PMG.

In many respects the names of the musicians on the album sleeve are sufficient to let you know that the music will be terrific but this disc would serve at a fantastic introduction to anyone wishing to sample how good jazz is in 2012. A Rolls Royce jazz ensemble.
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This disc marks the first time Pat Metheny has played with a tenor sax player in the studio since 1980's 80/81 (which featured Dewey Redman and the late Michael Brecker), and the first time he's collaborated with any reedman since Song X in 1985, a recording that bears more of the stamp of his mighty collaborator Ornette Coleman than many of his fans are comfortable with. As if to ease his listener gently back into this configuration, and to carefully point out its possibilities, the opening track "New Year" starts with the guitarist prettily soloing on nylon-string guitar before the rest of the band comes in. "Roofdogs", up next, starts as a trio (sounding like it came from the same sonic universe as "The Red One", off his 2008 trio record Day Trip) ahead of the appearance of the fourth member of the quartet. And the third track, "Come And See", opens with a duet between bass clarinet and Metheny on his 42-string Pikasso guitar, followed by a transition to full band that's reminiscent of the segue from "Into The Dream" to "So May It Secretly Begin" on Trio Live in 2000.

The reeds player on this date is the redoubtable Chris Potter, known to many of us from his lengthy, imaginative solo on "West Of Hollywood", which was the closer for Steely Dan's 2000 comeback album Two Against Nature, and also his sterling work with Dave Holland (beginning with Prime Directive from the same year). Here, he's a perfect foil for Metheny; the inventiveness and taste that both exhibit throughout is of the highest quality, irrespective of the style the piece is written in. This wide-ranging variety is nowhere better exhibited than on the set's final three tunes. On the first, "Signals", Metheny dusts off his Orchestrion, the mechanical behemoth around which he built 2010's album of the same name. This track harks back to that set; built up in an intriguing fashion from layers of loops over which Metheny and Potter interlock their solos. "Then And Now", a gentle, lyrical ballad follows, before the appearance of "Breakdealer": a fast, attacking piece over which everyone solos (including newcomer Ben Williams on bass and longstanding Metheny sideman Antonio Sanchez on drums) before its dazzling climax.

Those of us who might have been wondering whether it was a good idea to return to this quartet lineup (particularly if it meant delaying another release by the much-loved Pat Metheny Group) will have had any lingering doubts removed by the excellence of the playing, and the links to other places in Metheny's large back catalogue showcased here. In fact, at the close of this terrific set, you're left wanting more - which will doubtlessly be provided by this great band's live appearances later this summer.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 June 2012
Five IMPRESSIVE Stars! Unity, indeed. Multiple Grammy-winning jazz virtuoso guitarist Pat Metheny has assembled a tight, hard-swinging quartet that sounds like its been working for a long time and he gives the group an impressive array of original compositions. "Unity Band" rides the polyrhythms of drummer Antonio Sanchez (especially "Leaving Town"), anchored by the mellow underpinnings of rising star bassist Ben Williams (great "New Year" solo), and tenor sax luminary Chris Potter who adds his soprano sax and bass clarinet to the mix. Metheny, in addition to the wide palette of his electric and acoustical guitar sounds, adds the program-based Orchestrion EPK instrumentation to the proceedings, as on "Signals (Orchestrion Sketch)".The 'best of the best' begins with the altissimo edginess of the "Roofdogs" unison-theme with hot solos by Metheny and Potter, the avant-garde approach of the tone poem "Signals" with its unusual array of sounds and effects from the Orchestrion EPK and the band, the intensely beautiful ballads "Then and Now" and "This Belongs to You", and perhaps best of all the exotic intensity of "Come and See" which has a great "Willow Weep for Me" Potter quote rising from the musical maelstrom of his solo and a sizzling Metheny improvisation. Pat Metheny is a relentless musical explorer and Unity Band is his impressive new group, producing some exceptional jazz, and it gets My Highest Recommendation. Five RIVETING Stars (This review is based on an mp3 download; 9 tracks + digital booklet, Time: 65:48)
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on 15 June 2012
On "Unity Band", Pat Metheny reveals that he can look in two directions at once.
The group he's assembled here is an all-star ensemble.
Drummer Antonio Sanchez has been with him for a decade, while double bassist Ben Williams makes his first appearance with the guitarist, as does tenor saxophonist Chris Potter (whose soprano and bass clarinet playing are on display, too).
Metheny makes full use of this ensemble's possibilities.
He looks back through his catalog and composes for this band from some of the information gleaned there. One can recall the swirling melodic euphoria of the Pat Metheny Group in the guitar and guitar-synth interplay in "Roofdogs".
On the ingenious "Come and See", Metheny's many-stringed Picasso guitar meets Potter's bass clarinet to create a tonal inquiry before Williams and Sanchez establish a deep blue groove. When Potter adds his tenor and Metheny his electric, we get a Latinized swinging pulse that is ever so slightly reminiscent of the 80/81 band with Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman (this isn't the only place that happens here).
Fans of Metheny's more abundantly lyrical side will appreciate the breezy sway of "Leaving Town", though its melody -- twinned by his guitar and Potter -- is full of compelling tight turns, before the rhythm section evokes a deep, swinging blues and the guitarist gets refreshingly funky in his solo.
On "Signals" Metheny uses his Orchestrion and guitar with live loops: the band employs live loops throughout the intro on top.
Potter's tenor solo is emotive, grainy, and reaching, while the atmosphere recalls -- only generally -- the album the guitarist cut with Steve Reich.
The nocturnal, smoky "Then and Now" has a torch ballad quality due to Potter's utterly songlike solo.
The set closer "Breakdealer" begins at the boiling point and gets hotter.
The title hints at what Sanchez does throughout the tune while pushing forward, but Williams not only keeps up, he adds propulsive shades of his own and rocks the arpeggiated changes fluidly.
Metheny and Potter are free to sprint and they do; both dazzle with their lyric invention and knotty, imaginative, nearly boppish solos.
The two front-line players are surely at their best in one another's company on the date: you expect them to be. Yet it's the rhythm section that astonishes thoroughly. Their interplay is not only intuitive, it's informative: it points to new corners for Metheny and Potter to explore.
Given the guitarist's more compositional solo experiments of the last few years -- all of which have been very satisfying -- "Unity Band" is a return to what he does best: composing for, and playing with, a band of top-shelf players. T. Jurek
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on 16 January 2015
Great playing and great production but sadly forgettable because the compositions are not as strong as on previous records and most of the time what we have is high class noodling.

There is nothing as memorable here as for example the tracks First Circle, Third Wind, Are You Going with Me or James and the like from earlier recordings ... They were stellar compositions. These pieces are really springboards for great jazz players to show off. Maybe the missing ingredient here is Lyle Mays who perhaps brought some compositional focus and structure and reined in the indulgence.

Although perhaps traditionalists would prefer this kind of effort, I for one liked his music better when it was not so obviously 'jazz'.

Obviously the caveat is that this is Metheny - a master musician - so it is great by anyone's high standards but, when you have heard his really great music (which is hard to live up to), this one pales a bit in comparison.
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on 15 March 2013
If you are new to Pat Metheny, then my comments here will not be too helpful. Pat has done a lot better than this. I had hoped that a new band with Chris Potter on board would have been a stunning new direction for Pat. Chris Potter is one of the most innovative saxophone players around today. However, in this context, it is Pat Metheny's music that dominates and he has not been successful in finding the novelty he ought to be looking for. If you like Metheny and have just started enjoying his records, you should like this too.however, if you are a die-hard fan who has bought all of his records up to now, you may be disappointed by this. Ken Trethewey.
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on 30 July 2012
This is a great Album from a the renowned Master Guitarist. Anyone who likes his previous albums will enjoy this one.
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on 28 February 2015
Bought as a gift, recipient seems pleased with purchase
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on 3 April 2016
Pleased with my purchase
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on 16 June 2013
Everything was fine and easy - I received the CD within the promised time. When I still buy CD's it is because I like to have the physical product - reading the cover while listening to the music. Only thing to "complain" of re this delivery is that the cover was damaged at arrival (the CD works fine) - suggest better packaging if possible (know cost is an issue).

All the best
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