First Circle (album)

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First Circle
Studio album by
RecordedFebruary 15–19, 1984
StudioPower Station, New York
GenreJazz fusion
ProducerPat Metheny
Pat Metheny chronology
First Circle
The Falcon and the Snowman
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings[3]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[2]

First Circle is a Grammy Award–winning jazz album by the Pat Metheny Group. Released in 1984, it is the group's fourth studio release. Metheny is joined by Lyle Mays on keyboards, Steve Rodby on bass, Paul Wertico on drums, and Pedro Aznar on vocals, percussion, and guitar. First Circle won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.


Two personnel changes occurred. Drummer Danny Gottlieb was replaced by Paul Wertico, and the Group was joined by multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar, who had already established himself with the band Serú Girán in his native Argentina.

On First Circle, the Group used instruments it hadn't recorded with before, including the sitar ("Yolanda, You Learn"), trumpet ("Forward March"), and agogo bells ("Tell It All"). The first song, "Forward March", with Lyle Mays on trumpet, uses dissonant, out-of-tune chords and shifting time signatures. On putting the song first, Metheny remarked that it "seemed like a good idea at the time."[4]

This was the first Group album to feature a song with written lyrics, "Más Allá," by Aznar.

First Circle expanded the scope of the Group's music. In a podcast retrospective, Metheny remarked that the album brought the Group to a creative high that he had been seeking since its foundation. "With the record, First Circle, I finally felt like the Group was what I hoped it might be someday...there was this feeling of, 'Okay, we've done it. We can go anywhere now.'" He stated that First Circle, Still Life (Talking), and Letter from Home, among the Group's most popular albums, were part of a trilogy connected by their musical explorations and accessibly melodic personalities.

Along with "Phase Dance" and "Are You Going With Me?", the album's title track, "The First Circle", became one of the Group's most popular songs.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays except where noted

Side one:
1."Forward March"Metheny2:47
2."Yolanda, You Learn" 4:43
3."The First Circle" 9:10
4."If I Could"Metheny6:54
Side two:
1."Tell It All"7:55
2."End of the Game"7:57
3."Más Allá (Beyond)"5:37



Year Chart Position
1984 Billboard Jazz Albums 2
1984 Billboard Top 100 102


Grammy Awards

Year Category
1985 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance


  1. ^ Ginell, Richard S. (2011). "First Circle - Pat Metheny Group | AllMusic". Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  2. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 139. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  3. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 994. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  4. ^ Pat Metheny Songbook (ISBN 0-634-00796-3) page 441