Song X

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Song X
Studio album by Pat Metheny and Ornette Coleman
Released June 1986
Recorded December 12–14, 1985
Studio The Power Station, New York City
Genre Free jazz
Length 48:39
Label Geffen
Producer Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny chronology
The Falcon and the Snowman
(1984)The Falcon and the Snowman1984
Song X
Still Life (Talking)
(1987)Still Life (Talking)1987
Ornette Coleman chronology
Prime Design/Time Design
(1985) Prime Design/Time Design1985
Song X
(1986) Song X1986
In All Languages
(1987) In All Languages1987
Alternate cover
20th anniversary edition cover
20th anniversary edition cover

Song X is a collaborative studio album by American jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and saxophonist Ornette Coleman. It is a free jazz record that was produced in a three-day recording session in 1985.[1] The album was released in June 1986 by Geffen Records.[2]


In the three weeks leading up to the recording, Coleman and Metheny spent "between 6 and 12 hours a day every day, playing, hanging out and talking, trying to come up with a vocabulary for this particular session ... that would be different."[3]

Coleman's saxophone tone, when combined with a saxophone preset on Metheny's guitar synthesizer (which he had modified), created an "ensemble blend [that] was surprising to both of us."[3]

The album features mutual Metheny/Coleman collaborator Charlie Haden on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Coleman's son Denardo on various percussion instruments. It was recorded at The Power Station in New York City between December 12 and December 14, 1985.[4] A remixed and remastered version was issued on CD in August 2005, titled Song X: Twentieth Anniversary. Six unreleased tracks were added prior to the original eight songs.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[5]
Blender 4/5 stars[6]
Down Beat 5/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly A–[8]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[9]
Mojo 4/5 stars[4]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[11]
The Village Voice A[12]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau felt Metheny's mild mannered style of jazz kept the music uncluttered, calling Song X Coleman's best album of unadulterated jazz since the early 1970s: "No rock moves, and no funk, harmolodic or otherwise—it's all sweet lyricism, sonic comedy, and headlong invention."[12] Down Beat magazine deemed it "a remarkable union of the true and the new, a fusion of the bedrock human sound of Ornette's alto with the sometimes jarring, mostly bracing electronic capabilities of Pat's guitar-synth".[7] Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times that the experiment succeeded because both artists were masterful melodists, finding the record "less tangled and more directly songful than Mr. Coleman's recent albums with Prime Time".[13] Song X was voted the nineteenth best album of 1986 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[14]

In The Penguin Guide to Jazz (2004), Richard Cook and Brian Morton said the more adventurous recordings on Song X showcased the jubilant playing between Coleman and Metheny, who not only "powered his way through Coleman's itinerary with utter conviction, he set up opportunities for the saxophonist to resolve and created a fusion with which Coleman's often impenetrable Prime Time bands had failed to come to terms."[10] In a review of the album's 2005 reissue, Christgau wrote in Blender that all six bonus tracks were "strong enough to justify kicking off with them, and the perfect warm-up to an album Metheny was right to construct exactly as he did."[6] In his list for 2005 Pazz & Jop poll, he named its twentieth anniversary edition the sixteenth best album of the year.[15]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ornette Coleman except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "Song X" 5:38
2. "Mob Job" 4:13
3. "Endangered Species" (Coleman/Metheny) 13:19
4. "Video Games" 5:21
5. "Kathelin Gray" (Coleman/Metheny) 4:15
6. "Trigonometry" (Coleman/Metheny) 5:09
7. "Song X Duo" (Coleman/Metheny) 3:08
8. "Long Time No See" 7:36
Song X: Twentieth Anniversary (2005)
No. Title Length
1. "Police People" 4:57
2. "All of Us" 0:15
3. "The Good Life" 3:25
4. "Word from Bird" 3:48
5. "Compute" 2:03
6. "The Veil" 3:42
7. "Song X" 5:38
8. "Mob Job" 4:13
9. "Endangered Species" 13:19
10. "Video Games" 5:21
11. "Kathelin Gray" 4:15
12. "Trigonometry" 5:09
13. "Song X Duo" 3:08
14. "Long Time No See" 7:36
Total length: 66:42


  • Tracks 1–6 are unreleased new tracks.


Credits are adapted from Muze.[4]


  • Ted Jensen – audio remastering
  • David A. Cantor – photography


Chart (1986)[16] Peak
U.S. Top Jazz Albums (Billboard) 9


  1. ^ Jackson, Grant (April 26, 2013). "Pat Metheny On Piano Jazz". NPR. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Schwann Compact Disc Catalog". 2 (7). 1987: 166. 
  3. ^ a b Warner Brothers Music Show 137 (WMBS 137); Lyle Mays: The Interview with music from the Lyle Mays LP (GHS 24097) / Pat Metheny: The Interview with music from the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman LP Song X (GHS 24096) (Vinyl LP). USA: Geffen Records. 1986. Lay summary. 
  4. ^ a b c "Pat Metheny – Song X CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ Olewnick, Brian. "Song X – Pat Metheny". AllMusic. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 2005). "Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: 'Song X'". Blender. New York. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Review: Song X". Down Beat. Chicago. August 1986. 
  8. ^ Blumenfeld, Larry (August 12, 2005). "Jazz 101". Entertainment Weekly. New York: 833. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ Fordham, John (September 22, 2005). "CD: Ornette Coleman/ Pat Metheny, Song X". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 7th ed. (Penguin, 2004), p. 1114.
  11. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly (1992). The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 152. ISBN 0679737294. 
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 2, 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ Pareles, Jon (April 20, 1986). "Jazz's Odd Couple Join Forces to Make Splendid Melody". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  14. ^ "The 1986 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. March 3, 1987. 
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 7, 2006). "Pazz & Jop 2005: Dean's List". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Song X – Pat Metheny – Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 

External links[edit]