Pat Metheny Group

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Pat Metheny Group
Background information
Origin Lee's Summit, Missouri, United States
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, crossover jazz, world fusion
Years active1977–present
Labels ECM, Geffen, Warner Bros., Nonesuch
Past members

The Pat Metheny Group is an American jazz fusion group founded in 1977 in Missouri. The core members of the group are guitarist, composer and bandleader Pat Metheny; and keyboardist and composer Lyle Mays, who was in the group at its inception. Other long-standing members include bassist and producer Steve Rodby, who joined in 1981, and member Antonio Sanchez, who has been the group's drummer since 2002. In addition to a core quartet, the group has often been joined by a variety of other instrumentalists expanding the size to six or eight musicians.

Jazz fusion music genre

Jazz fusion is a music genre that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm and blues. Electric guitars, amplifiers, and keyboards that were popular in rock and roll started to be used by jazz musicians, particularly those who had grown up listening to rock and roll.

Missouri U.S. state in the United States

Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City. The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. Missouri is bordered by eight states : Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska to the west. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border.

Guitarist person who plays the guitar

A guitarist is a person who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of guitar family instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar by singing or playing the harmonica.




Founder Pat Metheny first emerged on the jazz scene in the mid-1970s with a pair of solo albums. First was Bright Size Life, released in 1976, a trio album with bass guitarist Jaco Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses. The next album, released in 1977, was Watercolors, featuring Eberhard Weber on bass, pianist Lyle Mays, and drummer Danny Gottlieb.

Pat Metheny American jazz musician

Patrick Bruce Metheny is an American jazz guitarist and composer.

<i>Bright Size Life</i> 1976 studio album by Pat Metheny

Bright Size Life is Pat Metheny's debut album, released in 1976 on ECM, when Metheny was 21. The album features Jaco Pastorius on bass and Bob Moses on drums. In 2005, the first track was included on the Progressions: 100 Years Of Jazz Guitar compilation on Columbia Records; in 2011, the first track was included on the Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology compilation.

Jaco Pastorius Musician, producer, educator

John Francis Anthony "Jaco" Pastorius III was an American jazz bassist who was a member of Weather Report from 1976 to 1981. He worked with Pat Metheny and Joni Mitchell, and recorded albums as a solo artist and band leader. His bass playing employed funk, lyrical solos, bass chords, and innovative harmonics. As of 2017, he is the only electric bassist of seven bassists inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame, and has been lauded as one of the best electric bassists of all time.

Despite the common description of Metheny's music as "fusion," it was always his intention [ citation needed ] to create improvised music that had a greater emphasis on bringing out harmony than anything common to what was called "fusion" of the time. Pastorius, with whom Metheny struck up a friendship while the two attended the University of Miami and later toured in Joni Mitchell's backing band during her transition from her earlier folk rock compositions to those with more jazz influence, had at the same time explored melodic lines for his instrument within the melodies normally heard, rather than just providing a simple bassline, revolutionizing the way the bass guitar was viewed by the musical establishment[ citation needed ]. The two friends would talk into the late evening during the early 1970s and discuss the new possibilities their instruments held.[ citation needed ]

University of Miami private university in Coral Gables, Florida, United States

The University of Miami is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. As of 2018, the university enrolls 17,331 students in 12 separate colleges/schools, including the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine in Miami's Health District, a law school on the main campus, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science focused on the study of oceanography and atmospheric sciences on Virginia Key, with research facilities at the Richmond Facility in southern Miami-Dade County.

Joni Mitchell Canadian musician

Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy. She has received many accolades, including nine Grammy Awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever", and AllMusic has stated, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century".

At the same time, Jaco and I were both really on a mission to find a way to play and find a way to present our instruments in an improvisational environment that expressed our dissatisfaction with the status quo at the time.

Pat Metheny [1]

In 1977, bassist Mark Egan joined Metheny, Mays, and Gottlieb to form the Pat Metheny Group. They released the self-titled album "Pat Metheny Group" in 1978 on the ECM label, which featured several songs co-written by Metheny and Mays. The group's second album, American Garage in 1979, was a breakout hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart and crossing over to 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. The group built upon its success with lengthy tours in the USA and Europe.

Mark Egan American jazz musician

Mark Egan is an American jazz bassist and trumpeter known for his membership in the Pat Metheny Group and the Gil Evans Orchestra. He is co-founder of the jazz fusion band, Elements.

<i>American Garage</i> 1979 studio album by Pat Metheny Group

American Garage is the second album by the Pat Metheny Group, released in 1979 on ECM Records.

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.


Left to right: Steve Rodby and Pat Metheny Steve Rodby and Pat Metheny.jpg
Left to right: Steve Rodby and Pat Metheny

The Pat Metheny Group released the album Offramp in 1982. Offramp marked the first recorded appearance of bassist Steve Rodby in the group (replacing Mark Egan), and also featured Brazilian "guest artist" Naná Vasconcelos. Vasconcelos had appeared on the Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays album As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls in 1981, and his performance on percussion and wordless vocals marked the first addition of Latin-South American music shadings to the Group's sound. Offramp was also the group's first recording to win a Grammy Award, the first win of many [2] for the group.

<i>Offramp</i> (album) 1982 studio album by Pat Metheny Group

Offramp is the third album by the Pat Metheny Group, released in 1982. It won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. It contains the popular ballad "Are You Going with Me?".

Steve Rodby American jazz musician

Steve Rodby is an American jazz bassist and producer known for his time with the Pat Metheny Group.

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

In 1983, a live album titled Travels was released. It won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance in 1984. 1984 brought the release of First Circle , a popular album that featured compositions with mixed meters. With this album, the group had a new drummer, Paul Wertico (replacing Danny Gottlieb). Wertico and Steve Rodby having both played with the Simon & Bard Group. A soundtrack album The Falcon and the Snowman followed in 1985. It featured the song "This Is Not America", a writing and performing collaboration with David Bowie which reached #14 in the British Top 40 [ citation needed ] and #32 on the US Billboard Hot 100 [3] in early 1985.

<i>Travels</i> (Pat Metheny Group album) 1983 live album by Pat Metheny Group

Travels is the Pat Metheny Group's first live album, released in 1983. It won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.

The Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance was an award given to a song or album for excellence in the jazz fusion genre, a combination of rock and jazz. It was given at the Grammy Awards, which began in 1958 under the name Gramophone Awards.

<i>First Circle</i> (album) 1984 studio album by Pat Metheny Group

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.

The South American influence would continue and intensify on First Circle with the addition of Argentine multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar. This period saw the commercial popularity of the band increase, especially thanks to the live recording Travels. First Circle would also be Metheny's last project with the ECM label; Metheny had been a key artist for ECM but left over conceptual disagreements with label founder Manfred Eicher.

The next three Pat Metheny Group releases would be based around a further intensification of the Brazilian rhythms first heard in the early '80s. Additional South American musicians appear as guests, notably Brazilian percussion player Armando Marçal. Still Life (Talking) in 1987, was the Group's first release on new label, Geffen Records, and featured several tracks which have long been popular with the group's followers, and which are still in their setlist. In particular, the album's first tune, "Minuano (Six Eight)", represents a good example of the Pat Metheny group compositional style from this period: the track starts with a haunting minor section from Mays, lifts off in a typical Methenian jubilant major melody, leading to a Maysian metric and harmonically-modulated interlude, creating suspense which is finally resolved in the Methenian major theme. Another popular highlight was "Last Train Home", a rhythmically relentless piece evoking the American Midwest. The 1989 release Letter from Home continued this approach, with the South American influence becoming even more prevalent in its bossa nova and samba rhythms.


Pat Metheny Group bassist Mark Egan Mark-Egan.JPG
Pat Metheny Group bassist Mark Egan

Metheny then again concentrated on other solo and band projects, and four years went by before the release of the next record for the next Pat Metheny Group. This was a live set recorded in Europe entitled The Road to You in 1993, and it featured tracks from the two Geffen studio albums alongside new tunes. By this stage, the group had integrated new instrumentation and technologies into its sound, including Mays' addition of midi-controlled synthesized sounds to acoustic piano solos, accomplished via a pedal control.[ citation needed ]

Mays and Metheny refer to the following three Pat Metheny Group releases as the triptych: We Live Here in 1995, Quartet , 1996, and Imaginary Day in 1997. Moving away from the Latin style which had dominated the releases of the previous decade, these albums included hip-hop drum loops, 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 , marking another change in direction through the addition of younger musicians. Joining the core players (Metheny, Mays and Rodby), were drummer Antonio Sanchez from Mexico City, trumpeter Cuong Vu from Vietnam and bassist, vocalist, guitarist, and percussionist Richard Bona from Cameroon.

Following the group's 2002 tour, Bona left to concentrate on his solo career, but appeared as one of two guest artists (the other being mallet cymbalist Dave Samuels) on the group's latest release, 2005's The Way Up , together with a new group member: Swiss-American harmonica player Grégoire Maret. The Way Up is a large-scale concept record which consists of a single 68 minute-long piece (split into four sections only for CD navigation). Metheny has said [4] that one of the inspirations for the labyrinthine piece was a reaction against a perceived trend for music requiring a short attention span and which lacks nuance and detail. Many of the textures in The Way Up are created from interlocking guitar lines -- Steve Reich is credited on the CD as an inspiration, along with Eberhard Weber, and there are large open sections for solo improvisation and group interplay. On the group's 2005 tour (when its lineup was supplemented by Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Nando Lauria), The Way Up was played in its entirety as the first half of the concert. The final performance of the piece was at a free show for more than a hundred thousand people at the close of the 2005 Montreal Jazz Festival.

Their latest album, The Way Up was released through Nonesuch Records. It is planned that all of Metheny's Geffen and Warner Bros. Records albums are to be rereleased on the label. [ citation needed ]

The Pat Metheny Group played at the Blue Note Tokyo in January 2009 in its core quartet of Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby and Antonio Sanchez. This quartet version of the group later toured the jazz festivals of Europe in the summer of 2010 as part of the "Songbook Tour". These concerts featured music from all eras of the group but no new material.


Current lineup

Past members


Pat Metheny Group


Studio albums

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions Certifications
[8] [9]
[13] [14]
Pat Metheny Group
  • Released: January, 1978 [16]
  • Label: ECM
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [17]
American Garage
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: ECM
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [18]
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: ECM
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [19]
First Circle
  • Released: 1984
  • Label: ECM
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [20]
Still Life (Talking)
  • Released: 1987
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [21]
Letter from Home
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [23]
We Live Here
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download [24]
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download [25]
Imaginary Day
  • Released: October 7, 1997 [26]
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
  • Formats: CD, DVD-A, digital download [27]
Speaking of Now
  • Released: February 12, 2002 [29]
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download [30]
The Way Up
  • Released: January 25, 2005 [32]
  • Label: Nonesuch Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download [33]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
  • Released: 1983
  • Label: ECM
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [35]
The Road to You
  • Released: 1993
  • Label: Geffen Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [36]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

Date of releaseTitleComment
2015 Essential Collection Last Train Home


TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
The Falcon and the Snowman
  • Released: 1985
  • Label: EMI
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [37]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Awards and nominations

Grammy Awards
YearCategory[ citation needed ]Nominated workNote
1983 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance OfframpWon
1985First CircleWon
1988Still Life (Talking)Won
1990Letter from HomeWon
1994 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album The Road to YouWon
1996We Live HereWon
1999 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance "The Roots of Coincidence"Won
Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album Imaginary DayWon
2003Speaking of NowWon
2005The Way UpWon

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