Pat Metheny

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Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny Barcelona 2008.jpg
Metheny in Barcelona, Spain, 2008
Background information
Birth name Patrick Bruce Metheny
Born (1954-08-12) August 12, 1954 (age 62)
Lee's Summit, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, Latin jazz, world, experimental, avant-garde
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, producer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1974–present
Labels ECM, Geffen, Warner, Nonesuch
Associated acts Gary Burton, Pat Metheny Group, Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, Antonio Sánchez
Notable instruments
Roland GR-300 guitar synthesizer, Synclavier guitar synthesizer, Pikasso guitar, Ibanez miniature soprano Pat Metheny signature model ('86), Metheny-Manzer Signature 6

Patrick Bruce "Pat" Metheny (/məˈθni/ mə-THEE-nee; born August 12, 1954) is an American jazz guitarist and composer.

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, Latin jazz, and jazz fusion.[1] Metheny has three gold albums and 20 Grammy Awards[2] and is the only person to win Grammys in ten different categories. He is the brother of jazz flugelhornist and journalist Mike Metheny.


Metheny was born and raised in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb southeast of Kansas City. At age 15, he won a Down Beat scholarship to a one-week jazz camp and was taken under the wing of guitarist Attila Zoller. Zoller also invited the young Metheny to New York City to see the likes of Jim Hall and Ron Carter. Following his graduation from Lee's Summit High School, Metheny briefly attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida in 1972, where he was quickly offered a teaching position. He then moved to Boston to take a teaching assistantship at the Berklee College of Music with jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton.[3] He first made his name as a teenage prodigy under the wing of Burton.[4]

Metheny touring in 2003

In 1974 he made his recording debut on an album unofficially titled Jaco with pianist Paul Bley, bassist Jaco Pastorius, and drummer Bruce Ditmas for Carol Goss's Improvising Artists label. Metheny entered the wider jazz scene in 1975 when he joined Gary Burton's band, playing with guitarist Mick Goodrick. Metheny and Goodrick were interviewed jointly by Guitar Player magazine in 1975, bringing them to the attention of guitar aficionados around the world.

Metheny released his official debut album, Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976) with Jaco Pastorius on bass and Bob Moses on drums. His next album, Watercolors (ECM, 1977), was the first time he recorded with pianist Lyle Mays, who became his most frequent collaborator. The album also featured Danny Gottlieb, who became the drummer for the first version of the Pat Metheny Group.[5] With Metheny, Mays, and Gottlieb, the fourth member was bassist Mark Egan when the album Pat Metheny Group (ECM, 1978) was released.

Outside the Group, Metheny has worked with Bill Frisell, Billy Higgins, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Dewey Redman, Eberhard Weber, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Jaco Pastorius, Jim Hall, John Scofield, Joni Mitchell, Joshua Redman, Marc Johnson, Michael Brecker, Mick Goodrick, Mike Metheny, Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes, Steve Swallow, and Tony Williams.[6]

He recorded the album Song X (Geffen, 1986) with Ornette Coleman; Parallel Realities (MCA, 1990) with Jack DeJohnette; Jazz Baltica with Ulf Wakenius and other Nordic jazz players like E.S.T. and Nils Landgren; and he has played with singers from all over the world, such as Silje Nergaard on Tell Me Where You're Going (1990), Bruce Hornsby on Harbor Lights (1993) and Hot House (1995), Noa on Noa (1994), Abbey Lincoln on A Turtle's Dream (1994) and Anna Maria Jopek on Upojenie (2002).

Metheny has been touring for more than 30 years, playing between 120 and 240 concerts a year. He has three children with his wife, Latifa.[7]

Pat Metheny Group[edit]

Main article: Pat Metheny Group


Left to right: Steve Rodby and Pat Metheny

When Pat Metheny Group (ECM, 1978) album was released, the Group was a quartet comprising, besides Metheny, Danny Gottlieb on drums, Mark Egan on bass, and Lyle Mays on piano, autoharp, and synthesizer. All but Egan had played on Metheny's album Watercolors (ECM, 1977), recorded a year before the first Group album.[8]

The second Group album, American Garage (ECM, 1979), reached number 1 on the Billboard Jazz chart and crossed over onto the pop charts. From 1982 to 1985, the Pat Metheny Group released Offramp (ECM, 1982); a live album, Travels (ECM, 1983); First Circle (ECM, 1984); and The Falcon and the Snowman (EMI, 1985), a soundtrack album for the movie of the same name in which they collaborated on the single "This Is Not America" with David Bowie. The song reached number 14 in the British Top 40 in 1985 and number 32 in the U.S.[citation needed]

Offramp marked the first appearance of bassist Steve Rodby (replacing Egan) and a Brazilian guest artist, the late Nana Vasconcelos, whose work on percussion and wordless vocals marked the first addition of Latin music shadings to the Group's sound, a trend which continued and intensified on First Circle with the addition of Argentinian singer and multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar, which also marked the debut of drummer Paul Wertico, replacing Gottlieb. Both Rodby and Wertico were members of the Simon and Bard Group at the time and had played in Simon-Bard in Chicago before joining Metheny.[citation needed]


First Circle was Metheny's last album with ECM; he had been a key artist for the label but left following disagreements with the label's founder, Manfred Eicher.[citation needed]

Still Life (Talking) (Geffen, 1987) featured new Group members trumpeter Mark Ledford, vocalist David Blamires, and percussionist Armando Marçal. Aznar returned for vocals and guitar on Letter from Home (Geffen, 1989).

During this period the Steppenwolf Theater Company of Chicago featured compositions by Metheny and Mays for their production of Lyle Kessler's play Orphans, where it has remained special optional music for all productions of the play around the world since.[citation needed]

Metheny then again delved into solo and band projects, and four years went by before the release of the next Group record, a live album titled The Road to You (Geffen, 1993), which featured tracks from the two Geffen studio albums among new tunes. The group integrated new instrumentation and technologies into its work, notably Mays' use of synthesizers.

Metheny and Mays themselves refer[citation needed] to the next three Pat Metheny Group releases as a triptych: We Live Here (Geffen, 1995), Quartet (Geffen, 1996), and Imaginary Day (Warner Bros., 1997). Moving away from the Latin style which had dominated the releases of the previous ten years, these albums included experiments with sequenced synthetic drums on one track, free-form improvisation on acoustic instruments, and symphonic signatures, blues, and sonata schemes.[citation needed]

With Speaking of Now (Warner Bros., 2002), new Group members were added: drummer Antonio Sanchez from Mexico City, trumpeter Cuong Vu from Vietnam, and bassist, vocalist, guitarist, and percussionist Richard Bona from Cameroon.

The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005) consists of one 68-minute-long piece (split into four sections for CD navigation) based on a pair of three-note kernels: The opening B, A#, F# and the derived B, A, F#. On The Way Up, harmonica player Grégoire Maret from Switzerland was introduced as a new group member, while Bona contributed as a guest musician.

Side projects[edit]

When working outside the Group, Metheny has shown different sides of his musical personality. On Secret Story (1992) and Orchestrion (2010), he ventured into genres of music not covered by the Group.

While the Group incorporated Brazilian jazz and other styles of Latin jazz, Metheny continued to expand his musical boundaries in the mid-90s with the avant-garde albums Zero Tolerance for Silence (1994) and The Sign of Four (1997) with Derek Bailey.

In 2006, he made two albums with Brad Mehldau, Metheny/Mehldau (2006) Metheny/Mehldau Quartet (2007) and appeared as a sideman on Michael Brecker's last album, Pilgrimage (2007).

In 2012, he formed the Unity Band with Antonio Sánchez on drums, Ben Williams on bass and Chris Potter on saxophone. This ensemble was called the Unity Band and toured Europe and the U.S. during the latter half of the year. In 2013, as an extension of the Unity Band project, Metheny announced the formation of the Pat Metheny Unity Group, with the addition of the Italian multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi.


Metheny with the 42-string Pikasso


Main article: Pikasso guitar

Metheny plays a custom-made 42-string Pikasso I created by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer on "Into the Dream" and on the albums Quartet (1996), Imaginary Day (1997), Jim Hall & Pat Metheny (1999), Trio → Live (2000), and the Speaking of Now Live and Imaginary Day Live DVDs. Metheny has also used the guitar in his guest appearances on other artists' albums. He also used the Pikasso on Metheny/Mehldau Quartet (2007), his second collaboration with pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio sidemen Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard; the Pikasso is featured on Metheny's composition "The Sound of Water".

Manzer has also made many acoustic guitars for Metheny, including a mini guitar, an acoustic sitar guitar, and the baritone guitar, which Metheny used for the recording of One Quiet Night (2003).

Guitar synthesizer[edit]

Metheny with the guitar synthesizer

Metheny was one of the first jazz guitarists to use the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer. Metheny commented, "you have to stop thinking about it as a guitar, because it no longer is a guitar". He approaches it as if he were a horn player, and he prefers the "high trumpet" sound of the instrument.[9] One of the "patches" that he has often used is on Roland's JV-80 "Vintage Synth" expansion card, entitled titled "Pat's GR-300".[citation needed]. In addition to the Roland, he also uses a Synclavier controller.[9]

Six-string and twelve-string electric[edit]

Metheny was an early proponent of the twelve-string guitar in jazz. During his 1975 tour with the Gary Burton "Quartet" (five people, including Metheny), he primarily played electric twelve-string guitar against the six-string work of resident guitarist Mick Goodrick.[citation needed]

Prior to Metheny, Pat Martino had used the electric twelve-string guitar on a studio album, Desperado[which?], and John McLaughlin had used a double-neck electric guitar with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Ralph Towner was perhaps the first[citation needed] to use acoustic twelve-string guitar extensively in jazz ("The Moors", from Weather Report's I Sing the Body Electric, Columbia, 1972), and Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine made extensive use of acoustic twelve string in alternate tunings at the 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival, later releasing some of the material on their 1976 Twin House album.[citation needed]

Metheny used a twelve-string guitar on his debut album, Bright Size Life (1976), including alternate tuning on "Sirabhorn", and on later albums ("San Lorenzo", from Pat Metheny Group and Travels).[citation needed]


As a young guitarist, Metheny tried to sound like Wes Montgomery, but when he was 14 or 15, he decided it was disrespectful to imitate him.[10] In the liner notes on the 2-disc Montgomery compilation Impressions: The Verve Jazz Sides, Metheny is quoted as saying, "Smokin' at the Half Note is the absolute greatest jazz-guitar album ever made. It is also the record that taught me how to play."

Ornette Coleman's 1968 album New York Is Now! inspired Metheny to find his own direction.[11] He has recorded Coleman's compositions on a number of albums, starting with a medley of "Round Trip" and "Broadway Blues" on his debut album, Bright Size Life (1976). He worked extensively with Coleman's collaborators, such as Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, and Billy Higgins, and he recorded the album Song X (1986) with Coleman and toured with him.

Metheny made three albums on ECM with Brazilian vocalist and percussionist Naná Vasconcelos. He lived in Brazil from the late 1980s to the early 1990s and performed with several local musicians, such as Milton Nascimento and Toninho Horta. He played with Antônio Carlos Jobim as a tribute, in a live performance in Carnegie Hall Salutes The Jazz Masters: Verve 50th Anniversary.

He is also a fan of several pop music artists, especially singer/songwriters including James Taylor (after whom he named the song "James" on Offramp); Bruce Hornsby, Cheap Trick, and Joni Mitchell, with whom he performed on her Shadows and Light (1980, Asylum/ Elektra) live tour. Metheny is also fond of Buckethead's music. He also worked with, sponsored or helped to make recordings of singer/songwriters from all over the world, such as Pedro Aznar (Argentina), Akiko Yano (Japan), David Bowie (UK), Silje Nergaard (Norway), Noa (Israel), and Anna Maria Jopek (Poland).[12]

Two of Metheny's albums, The Way Up (2005) and Orchestrion (2010), evidence the influence of American minimalist composer Steve Reich and utilize similar rhythmic figures structured around pulse. Reich's composition "Electric Counterpoint" was first recorded by Metheny and appears on the Different Trains CD released by Nonesuch Records in 1987.

Metheny Brothers[edit]

Metheny took part in recording some of the CDs by his older brother, trumpeter Mike Metheny, a jazz musician and a trumpet player based in Kansas City, Missouri, among them Day In – Night Out (1986) and more recently Close Enough for Love (2001).[13][14]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Only person to win Grammy Awards in ten different categories[15]
  • Down Beat Hall of Fame, 2013
  • Miles Davis Award, Montreal International Jazz Festival, 1995
  • Orville H. Gibson Award, 1996
  • Guitarist of the Year, Down Beat Readers' Poll, 1983, 1986–'91, 2007–2016
  • Best Jazz Guitarist, Guitar Player magazine, 1982, '83, '86
  • Best Jazz Guitarist, Guitar Player magazine Readers' Poll, '84, '85, 2009
  • Best Acoustic Guitarist, Acoustic Guitar magazine Readers' Poll, 2009
  • Echo Award, International Ensemble of the Year, Kin, 2015

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Category Title Note
2013 Best Jazz Instrumental Album Unity Band With the Unity Band
2012 Best New Age Album What's It All About
2008 Best Jazz Instrumental Album Pilgrimage (Won as producer)
2006 Best Contemporary Jazz Album The Way Up Pat Metheny Group
2004 Best New Age Album One Quiet Night
2003 Best Contemporary Jazz Album Speaking of Now Pat Metheny Group
2001 Best Jazz Instrumental Solo "(Go) Get It" (Won as soloist)
2000 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance Like Minds With Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Gary Burton, Roy Haynes
1999 Best Rock Instrumental Performance "The Roots of Coincidence" Pat Metheny Group
1999 Best Contemporary Jazz Performance Imaginary Day Pat Metheny Group
1998 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance Beyond the Missouri Sky With Charlie Haden
1996 Best Contemporary Jazz Performance We Live Here Pat Metheny Group
1994 Best Contemporary Jazz Performance The Road to You Pat Metheny Group
1993 Best Contemporary Jazz Performance Secret Story
1991 Best Instrumental Composition "Change of Heart" (Won as composer)
1989 Best Jazz Fusion Performance Letter from Home Pat Metheny Group
1988 Best Jazz Fusion Performance Still Life (Talking) Pat Metheny Group
1985 Best Jazz Fusion Performance First Circle Pat Metheny Group
1984 Best Jazz Fusion Performance Travels Pat Metheny Group
1983 Best Jazz Fusion Performance Offramp Pat Metheny Group




Video albums[edit]

Year Video Formats
1992 More Travels VHS, Laserdisc, DVD
1993 Secret Story - Live in New Brunswick NJ VHS, Laserdisc, DVD
1995 We Live Here - Live in Japan VHS, Laserdisc, DVD
2001 Imaginary Day Live VHS, DVD
2003 Speaking of Now Live DVD
2006 The Way Up - Live DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-ray
2012 The Orchestrion Project DVD, Blu-ray 3D
2015 The Unity Sessions DVD, Blu-ray

Special guest[edit]

Year Video Formats
1994 Carnegie Hall Salutes The Jazz Masters - 50th anniversary of Verve Records VHS, Laserdisc, DVD
1995 Mechanisms Of Density - The Last Word From Paradise VHS, Laserdisc
1997 Woodstock Jazz Festival (Live in Woodstock, NY, 1981) DVD
1997 Jack DeJohnette & Don Alias: Talking Drummers - A Journey Of Music, Friendship And Spirit VHS
1998 Jack DeJohnette Special Edition (Live at Montreal Jazz Festival 1988) VHS, Laserdisc
1998 DOC Anthology Vol:5 VHS
1998 Jim Hall - A Life In Progress VHS, DVD
2002 DeJohnette, Hancock, Holland, Metheny in Concert (Live at Mellon Jazz Festival 1990) VHS, Laserdisc, DVD
2003 Joni Mitchell - Shadows and Light (Live in Santa Barbara, CA, 1979) VHS, Laserdisc, DVD
2003 JVC Newport Jazz Festival 2003 DVD
2004 Bruce Hornsby & Friends (Live in New York City, 1995) DVD
2005 Enrique Morente - Morente Sueña La Alhambra DVD
2006 Bruce Hornsby - Intersections (1985-2005) DVD
2007 Michael Brecker: The Tales From The Hudson Band (Live in Tokyo 1997) DVD
2008 Spectacle : Elvis Costello With... Season One DVD, Blu-ray
2009 Jazz Expressions - 30 Years of Great Music DVD
2012 Festival Gnaoua et Musiques du Monde DVD
2015 Eberhard Weber - The Jubilee Concert DVD


Film scores[edit]

Year Video Formats
1979 The Search For Solutions VHS
1983 Under Fire DVD, Blu-ray
1984 The Tender Age (Little Sister) VHS
1984 Fandango DVD
1985 Twice In A Lifetime DVD
1985 The Falcon And The Snowman DVD, Blu-ray
1985 Amazing Stories, The Complete First Season - Episode #24 : Grandpa's Ghost DVD
1986 Orphans DVD
1988 Lemon Sky DVD
1989 Big Time DVD
1990 Arachnophobia DVD
1992 Toys DVD
1993 The Silent Alarm DVD
1998 Gentle Into The Night (Passaggio Per Il Paradiso) VHS
1999 A Map Of The World DVD
1999 The Taste of Others DVD
2005 Trece Entre Mil DVD
2009 Mourning Becomes Electra DVD
2013 Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed (Vivir Es Fácil Con Los Ojos Cerrados) DVD, Blu-ray
2014 Becoming California DVD, Blu-ray


  • Goins, Wayne E. (2001). Emotional Response to Music: Pat Metheny's Secret Story. Edwin Mellen Press. 


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott (2010). "Pat Metheny". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-04-06. 
  2. ^ "Past Winners Search". Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ Taylor, B. Kimberly (1999). "Pat Metheny 2002". HighBeam Research, Inc. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  4. ^ Chinen, Nate (January 28, 2010). "19th-Century Concept, With a Few Upgrades". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  5. ^ Ginell, Richard. "Watercolors - Pat Metheny | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Forte, Dan (1 December 2016). "Pat Metheny: The Jazz Guitar Prodigy at 60". Vintage Guitar magazine. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Devi, Debra (November 11, 2010). "Pat Metheny and Lee Ritenour- Tues Aug 31 2010". Guitar International. Pat is here with his striking French-Moroccan wife, Latifa, their two young sons and a new baby. 
  8. ^ Niles, Richard (2009). The Pat Metheny interviews : the inner workings of his creativity revealed. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Books. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4234-7469-2. 
  9. ^ a b Webb, Nicholas (May 1985). "Interview with Pat Metheny". Guitarist. 
  10. ^ Ratliff, Ben (February 25, 2005). "Pat Metheny: An Idealist Reconnects With His Mentors". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  11. ^ Jeff Kitts and Brad Tolinski, Eds. (October 1, 2002). Guitar World Presents 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-634-04619-3. 
  12. ^ "Pat Metheny". Pat Metheny. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  13. ^ "Mike Metheny official website". June 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  14. ^ "Metheny Music Foundation, Inc". July 23, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  15. ^ "Pat Metheny: Awards". Pat Metheny. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Past Winners Search". Retrieved September 25, 2011. 

External links[edit]