Pat Metheny is on a creative roll, with a hot new release by his own band "QUARTET," and live and/or recorded performances with Michael Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Tony Williams, Jim Hall and Derek Bailey taking place recently. One of the most celebrated figures in jazz, Metheny's creativity, like Haden's, knows no boundaries.
"I have always admired Pat's musical vision, his melodies, chords and voicing are unique unto him. He is an innovator in the sound he gets, as he is in his composing and improvising. His musical presentation is always beyond category, and his sense of the sound in music that comes from the feeling of this country is uncanny. Of course, he is from Missouri, as am I, which surely has something to do with it. I call his sound contemporary impressionistic Americana," says Haden.
Adds Metheny: "Charlie has been a huge influence on me as a musician and as a person. He is simply one of the greatest improvising musicians ever, and his bass playing has set the standard for what is now several generations of musicians. It was an honor to be asked by Charlie to make this record. For me, personally, this is one of the most special recordings I've ever been a part of "
Though Haden and Metheny have recorded together in many different contexts, this is their first duet recording.
The first "short story" is "Waltz For Ruth," a new song "that I wrote for this record and is dedicated to my wife, Ruth Cameron," says Haden. "Our Spanish Love Song" "...was composed in Madrid when I was there recording with Gonzalo Rubalealba. I recorded it with him, too."
Pat Metheny's "Message To A Friend" was written with Charlie in mind. "The way the bass line moves on this is very Charlie-ish," declares Pat. "I had originally written this for the record I did with John Scorield. At one point there was talk about Charlie doing that record, too, so I was thinking of him."
An obscure Henry Mancini song, "Two For The Road," was suggested by Pat. "This tune came out in the mid-sixties , from a not very well known Audrey Hepburn film of the same name. I heard it back then and I remember thinking it was the greatest song I had ever heard. At that point I wasn't a sophisticated listener ... but there was something about that time that stayed with me."
Haden's "First Song" is nearly a jazz standard, having been recorded by Stan Getz, David Sanborn, and several others. The bassist "wanted to record it with Pat, and Ruth wanted to hear him play it too." Mission accomplished, with style.
"The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" comes to this project, indirectly, through pop singer Joe Cocker, who played his version for Haden back in 1975. "I really liked it then, and later I heard a version by a Norwegian singer which I also liked. I really wanted to perform it someday. Knowing Pat's concept and direction in music, this really lent itself well to what we were doing."
In choosing to record "Precious Jewel" Haden reached back into his childhood to acknowledge the influence of The Delmore Brothers."Their records were always playing in our house," says Charlie." They were the main influence on country harmony back then. Everybody listened to them . . . I think they had a heavy influence on all country singers that came after them. They had this special harmony that they sang that was very innovative."
>"He's Gone Away" also dates from Haden's childhood, and the Haden Family Band and their radio show. "My mom used to sing this song, with slightly different lyrics, on our radio show, under the title "The Railroad Man."
Making its recorded debut on this disc is Johnny Mandel's "Moon Song." "I discovered this at a tribute to Johnny Mandel which was held at The Jazz Bakery, a club in Los Angeles" relates Charlie. "Somebody played this song. There weren't any lyrics to it. Man, I loved it. I got the band to give me the sheet music and later I called Johnny and told him I wanted to do it and he said, great, no one's ever recorded it."
Another recorded debut takes place on "Tears of Rain". This time it's Metheny's new acoustic guitar/sitar, acquired just before this record date. "It's an interesting hybrid of a couple of things. I've used electric sitars often over the years, and I'd always imagined what it would be like to have an acoustic guitar that had that same kind of resonant property which has to do with the special kind of bridge that is on sitars. I thought it would be an interesting blend with Charlie's bass, which, it turns out, it is."
The film CINEMA PARADISO was the source for two songs on this collection. Haden proposed using the "Main Theme" from the film. "This was a special movie for me," says Charlie. "I've always loved Ennio Morricone's music, but this was special music." Metheny found the music to be a challenge: "The score from CINEMA PARADISO is one of my favorites. It's music I loved as a listener but never thought much about playing, especially the 'Main Theme'. I didn't think it was playable on the guitar because it's so pianistic in its conception. It took quite a bit of doing for me to figure out how to play it. I had to come up with a pretty weird tuning in order to get the notes to come out right."
"The 'Love Theme' is less well known than the 'Main Theme' but is equally beautiful. It's written by Morricone's son, Andrea. I met him while in Italy and he got me a copy of the CINEMA PARADISO score. Since we were doing the 'Main Theme' I suggested to Charlie that we do the 'Love Theme' too."
The disc closes with "Spiritual," written by Josh Haden. Says Haden: "My son's song is a special one from his band Spain's debut album, THE BLUE MOODS OF SPAIN. Johnny Cash has also just recorded it, on his new album, UNCHAINED. Josh is a great songwriter. I'm real proud of him." Adds Pat, "When I got Josh's record, this tune immediately jumped out at me."
With so many projects occupying their time, it's no surprise that BEYOND THE MISSOURI SKY (SHORT STORIES) BY CHARLIE HADEN & PAT METHENY took so long to become a reality. It's been worth the wait. "This album celebrates our country, right at a time when the election has just taken place and the country now has a chance to come together again," says Haden. "The two musics that are this country's strongest art forms are ones I've been involved with all my life: hillbilly music, or country and western, and jazz. I think this record brings all of our musical art forms together.
BEYOND THE MISSOURI SKY is the culmination of a 25 year friendship of two of America's premier musicians. These "short stories" add up to a moving, beautiful anthology of American music.
Copyright 1997 - Pat Metheny Group Listener Network - PM Tours, Inc.