Metheny. Though he’s best known for his work with the Pat Metheny Group—which hasranged in size from four to seven memberssince the Group’s inception in 1977—some of Metheny’s most personal and influential discshave been his trio outings. He has released fivesuch records over the course of his career, be-ginning in 1975 with
Bright Size Life
followed in ’83, then
Question and Answer
in’89, and, last year, Metheny released
and the two-CD
[both on Warner Bros.]. Though he’snow leaving the trio format behind to launcha new Pat Metheny Group project, the guitaristremains excited about the three-man ensemblehe spent the past year-and-a-half touring andrecording with.
•••••What is it about playing in a trio that appeals to you?
One thing that’s cool about a guitar trio isit’s a blank slate. There aren’t a lot of archetypesto say, “Okay, this is how you do it.” That wasparticularly true when I started playing in thelate ’60s. You could almost count the trio recordsthat existed then—Kenny Burrell’s
Man at Work
,one Grant Green record, and a couple of Jim Hallrecords. It was open territory.
How is this trio different from other trios you’ve had?
album, I played with[bassist] Charlie Haden and [drummer] Billy Hig-gins, who were the rhythm section from [sax-ophonist] Ornette Coleman’s band. We shapedthe music around that connection, and weplayed a lot of Ornette’s tunes. It was similar with[drummer] Roy Haynes and [bassist] Dave Hol-land, with whom I recorded
Question and An-swer
. Roy was one of the pivotal figures in thedevelopment of modern jazz music, so I wantedto build our music around
.But in my new trio with [bassist] Larry Grenadier and [drummer] Bill Stewart, I’m build-ing the music around what
thing is. I assumeabsolute command of the troops, in terms of set-ting the direction and tone of the music throughthe compositions, the instrumentation, and thevolume we play at.
Had the new group played together much be- fore you recorded
We did four or five weeks of gigs in Europe.Those were just for fun—something differentafter a two-year stretch of gigs I had done withmy regular group.
Why did you decide to record this group?
Day by day, the playing kept getting betterand better, and the band started morphing intothis very special thing. It developed an identity that was quite different from my other trios, soit would have been insane
to document it.Four or five days before the end of the tour, Isaid, “When we get back to New York, let’s go
guitarplayer.com MARCH 2001 GUITAR PLAYER
instrument to provide chordal signposts, it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinthine progression of a jazz tune. And you get little or no chance to rest. You’re in charge of playing the lion’s share of melodies and solos, plus all the comping during bass or drum solos. You’re also more responsiblefor the music’s overall texture than you are ina larger group—when you play sparsely, theband sounds sparse, and when you play clustery chords or concentrated solo flurries, the bandsounds dense.One guitarist who’s
familiar with thechallenges and rewards of trio playing is Pat
GUITAR PLAYER MARCH 2001 guitarplayer.com
PHOTO: EBET ROBERTSPHOTO: DENNIS KLEIMAN
or the past few years, Metheny has done most his electric work on an Ibanez Pat Metheny Signature Model PM120—a thinline, double-cutaway archtop. It’s strung with a D’Addario XL115W set (.011P, .014P, .018W, .028W, .038W, .049W).Metheny uses a complex rig to amplify his Ibanez. First, the guitar signal goes to a di-rect box, which splits the signal and sends one line to the house P.A. (or recording console)and the other line to a DigiTech GSP 2101 preamp. The right channel output of the 2101 issplit via a direct box, with one of the signals routed to a Crest power amp and an old Acoustic 134 4x10 combo loaded with JBLs—the amp electronics aren’t engaged, as thecombo is used solely as a speaker cabinet—and the other signal going to an old LexiconPrime Time II delay (set to a 13-millisecond delay with sine-wave modulation). This signalterminates at a Crest power amp feeding a 15" JBL speaker in a Theil cabinet that sits onone side of the stage. The 2101’s left side is sent to a Prime Time II (set to a 26-milliseconddelay with sine-wave modulation), as well, and then to another Crest power amp feeding a15" JBL in a Theil cab placed on the opposite side of the stage.“This setup fills out the sound so my guitar doesn’t appear as if it’s coming from a littlebox,” says Metheny. “People often confuse my processed tone with ‘chorusing’—an effect I’ve always hated because it mixes two different pitches in one speaker. I like it when twosound sources are discreet and things just mix together in the air.”
METHENY’S TONE TOOLS
hen you hear Pat Metheny’s fluid improvised lines—often zooming by at a swift clip—it’s hard to imagine he believes his picking technique leaves muchto be desired.
“When I watch Pat Martino play, his picking technique is the most efficient thing I’veever seen,” says Metheny. “There’s very little movement, and it’s very practical.
tech-nique is absolutely illogical.“People often ask me why I hold the pick backwards. The reason is I could only get Fender Thin picks in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, where I grew up. I couldn’t stand the way thosepicks sounded, so I learned to hold them backwards—with the round edge towards thestrings—and to bend the edge a little between my thumb and two fingers. That made thethin pick sound more like a medium.“I didn’t see any really good guitar players when I was starting out, because there weren’t many around my town. When I finally did see guys who could really play, Ithought, ‘Wow, I’m picking all wrong!’ But by then it was too late, because I was already making records. I do think about taking a month off and studying with someone likeFrank Gambale, because there are things I can’t quite do, which I
do if I had amore efficient picking technique.”
METHENY ON HIS ILLOGICAL PICKING
“If you present music in such away that the audience can find theirown door into it, you can challengethem musically,” says Metheny (with Ibanez PM120 prototype).
Originally printed in [month] [year] issue of Guitar Player.Reprinted with the permission of the Publishers of Guitar Play-er. Copyright [year of original publication] United Entertain-ment Media, Inc., a CMP Information company. All rights re-served. Guitar Player is a Music Player Network publication, 2800 Campus Dr., San Mateo, CA 94403 (650) 513-4300. Subscribe atwww.musicplayer.com.