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Pat Metheny Biography

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Born: 1954/08/12
Birth Place: Lee's Summit. Missouri, United States
Years Active: 1974 - present
Genres: Jazz, Jazz Fusion, World Fusion, Pop Music, Progressive Rock

Patrick Bruce "Pat" Metheny (born August 12, 1954) is an American jazz guitarist and composer. One of the most successful and critically acclaimed jazz musicians to come to prominence in the 1970s and '80s, he is the leader of the Pat Metheny Group and is also involved in duets, solo works and other side projects. His style incorporates elements of progressive and contemporary jazz, post-bop, latin jazz and jazz fusion. He is the brother of jazz flugelhornist and journalist Mike Metheny. To date Metheny has collected 17 Grammy Awards.

In 1974 he made his recording debut on two sessions for pianist Paul Bley's and Carol Goss' Improvising Artists label, along with fretless electric bassist Jaco Pastorius.

Metheny entered the wider jazz scene in 1975 when he joined Gary Burton's band, where he played alongside resident jazz guitarist Mick Goodrick. Goodrick, like Metheny, was a 1967 alumnus of Berklee, who held a teaching post there in the early 1970s. Metheny's musical momentum carried him rapidly to the point that he had soon written enough material to record his debut album, 1976’s “Bright Size Life” with Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses. The album was a success, reaching #28 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart.

Metheny's next recording, 1977's “Watercolors,” was the first to feature pianist Lyle Mays, Metheny's most frequent collaborator. The other musicians on this session were Eberhard Weber on upright bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums.

Metheny's next album formalized his partnership with Mays and began the Pat Metheny Group, featuring several songs they co-wrote. Their debut album was released as the eponymous “Pat Metheny Group” on West German musician/producer Manfred Eicher's ECM record label in 1978. It peaked at #5 on the Jazz Albums chart.

The second group album, 1980’s “American Garage,” was a breakout hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart and crossing over onto the pop charts as well, largely on the strength of the up-tempo opening track, “(Cross the) Heartland,” which would become a signature tune for the group.

From 1982 to 1985 the Pat Metheny Group released “Offramp” in 1982, a live set “Travels” in 1983 and “First Circle” in1984, as well as “The Falcon and the Snowman” in 1985, a soundtrack album for the movie of the same name in which they collaborated with David Bowie. A single from the soundtrack, “This Is Not America,” reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

This period became a peak of commercial popularity of the band, especially for the live recording “Travels.” The next three Pat Metheny Group releases would be based around a further intensification of the Brazilian rhythms first heard in the early 1980s. Additional Latin musicians appear as guests, notably Brazilian percussion player Armando Marçal. 1987’s “Still Life (Talking)” was the group's first release on new label Geffen Records, and featured several popular tracks.

Metheny then again delved into adventurous solo and band projects, and four years went by before the release of the next record for the next Pat Metheny Group, 1993’s live set entitled, “The Road to You,” which featured tracks from the two Geffen studio albums amongst new tunes.

Mays and Metheny themselves refer to the following three Pat Metheny Group releases, 1995’s “We Live Here,” 1996’s “Quartet” and 1987’s “Imaginary Day,” as the triptych. Moving away from the Latin style which had dominated the releases of the previous 10 years, these albums were the most wide-ranging and least commercial Group releases, including experimentations with sequenced synthetic drums on one track, free-form improvisation on acoustic instruments, and symphonic signatures, blues and sonata schemes.

After another hiatus, the Pat Metheny Group re-emerged in 2002 with the release “Speaking of Now,” another change in direction adding musicians to the band who are one generation younger and thus grew up with the Pat Metheny Group.

Their release, 2005's “The Way Up,” was a large concept record consisting of one 68 minute-long piece, based on a pair of three-note kernels. In 2006 it won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, Metheny’s sixth win in that category.