Pat Metheny Group “Pat Metheny Group”



Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#642 in the Series) is the eponymous release by The Pat Metheny Group. (ECM)

Often when I post these pieces to either here at the website or on our sister Facebook Page I often get a reaction saying something like, “this album is good but I like ‘blank’ better” or possibly “you should’ve done their other album called ‘blank’ as apposed to this one.” As I’ve said before our goal was never to just feature an artist’s best album, that would narrow the field down considerably plus whom am I to say if what I think is the best album parallels with what you think is the best album. Don’t worry we’ll get to and them. I say that because I have a feeling the number of people that request a different Pat Matheny album are going to be few.  I hate to say a 30 some-year-old album by anyone is their best but to me this was their best.

I’d always loved Pat Metheny‘s guitar work. I was a big fan of his earlier works like Bright Size Life and also some other releases notibaly, New Chautauqua, Watercolors etc, but it all came together on the Pat Metheny Group album. It’s often said that jazz music is music for musicians to enjoy. I’ve never considered myself a great musician (he laughs) but that has never stopped me from enjoying Pat’s work and especially this album. I consider it highly accessible for both the untrained and trained ears alike. The two parties may get enjoyment for different reasons, but that’s fine.

“San Lorenzo” and “Phase Dance” make up the entire side one. Possibly the two best songs Pat has ever recorded. Side two begins with a tribute to the great Jaco Pastorius in the song called simply “Jaco.” It’s interesting to note that Pat pays tribute to the great former Weather Report bassist nine years before Jaco’s early death. PMG bassist Mark Egan adds his wonderful fretless bass work to this track.  Side two also includes a powerful song called “Lone Jack.” I found a wonderful life version of the song recorded somewhat recently. It was a nice surprise because I figured Pat had long put these songs away and didn’t perform any of them live any longer.

The band stayed in a nice groove for the next few years after this release. American Garage and 80, 81 were winners and so was the album released by Matheny and keyboardist Lyle Mays, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls.

Pat changed direction shortly after this. I had a chance to talk to him after hours at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 1980. He mentioned to me that he was going for a new sound. He described it to me as a cross between Ornette Coleman’s trumpet and an elephant! I think you can hear the beginnings of this sound on ‘Off-Ramp.’ He actually described it perfectly.

It almost seems like Pat’s popularity was much higher during late late 70s, early 80s period, and that just might be true. I think there is a very clear reason for that. Back in that era, many of the cool rock stations like WXRT here in Chicago would very often play acts like Metheny, Return to Forever, Brand X, etc. Now they don’t. Trust your listeners Music Directors. Like Steve Earle once told me, “There’s only two kinds of music, good and bad.” If it’s good, we don’t hit the button.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

Side I

  1. “San Lorenzo” (Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays) 10:14
  2. “Phase Dance” (Metheny, Mays) 8:18

Side II

  1. “Jaco” (Metheny) 5:34
  2. “Aprilwind” (Metheny) 2:09
  3. “April Joy” (Metheny) 8:14
  4. “Lone Jack” (Metheny, Mays) 6:41


  • Pat Metheny – 6- and 12- String Guitars
  • Lyle Mays – Piano, Oberheim Synthesizer, Autoharp
  • Mark Egan – Bass
  • Danny Gottlieb – Drums


Here are some great live performances of songs from the album. 

You might like these as well.

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Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Phil Dorner (02 Mar 2012, 7:10)

    GREAT CALL!!!! Even though I have followed Pat since this album(heard on XRT) and still follow Pat, there is no lineup he has played with like this. Gottlieb slams. I would like to see Pat get back together with this lineup and do an American Garage or harder, Jazz/Rock album. I think it would be legendary!

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