Unity Band Press, Album Reviews, and Interviews
“An excellent album, with Metheny as the solo star and at the same time at full disposal for an incredible band
(Guitar Club, Italy)
“Jazz is unpredictable and jazz musicians, at least the enlightened ones, keep on moving. It becomes even more clear if you think about Pat Metheny...”
- Ugo Bacci (L’Eco di Bergamo, June 2nd, Italy)
"Pat Metheny has never been afraid of traveling all roads of
music. His blur-ring of musical boundaries is a treat for some, infuriating to
others. With his latest release – his first in more than 30 years with a tenor
saxophonist – he visits many of the side roads he has taken throughout his
career.The album’s opening tune, “New Year,” starts with a lovely acoustic
intro that gives you quick insight into Metheny’s harmonic skills. Once the
band joins in, the chord changes and airy feel allow everyone to solo freely.
Metheny’s acoustic solo is a textbook example of how he’s able to navigate
changes with ease and great feeling. Saxophonist Chris Potter immediately shows
why he’s thrst player of the instrument Metheny’s used since his 1980 release
80/81 when he played with the late Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker. Potter’s
two solos display a player at the peak of his talents. That opener also
features strong playing by bassist Ben Williams, whose facility in navigating
the chords keeps things swinging during his extended solo.The variety
throughout the record is staggering. “Roofdogs” gives Metheny a chance to
showcase his work with guitar synthesizer. Deep hollow-body jazz tones dominate
“Come And See” as Metheny darts in and around the changes during his solo and
provides gliding chords behind Potter’s solo. “Leaving Town” has a soul-jazz
feel that lets Metheny get down and dirty as opposed to the elegance that
normally is his calling card. The majestic “Then And Now” and the wide-ranging
“Signals (Orchestrion Sketch)” round out what is a full card of jazz guitar
music. It’s no secret that Metheny is one of the best we have, or for that
matter, have ever had. But records like Unity Band prove what a true original
he is when it comes to jazz and jazz guitar."
– John Heidt (Vintage Guitar)
"...With Unity Band quartet, Pat Metheny has achieved the greatest jazz compositions and again with a new album he is seducing with beautiful music”
- Marek Dusza (Rzeczpospolita)
"Each of the musicians is a great artistic individuality, each of them gives away his greatness for the need of even greater whole that is as real as artistically various, scattered on the world map of jazz. Therefore such different use of orchestrion can be found in one of Pat’s compositions. On the other hand, it is impossible not to notice many references to Pat’s so far creative output...Unity Band is Pat who is looking to the future, but not forgetting from where he came.”
- Piotr Iwicki (Jazz Gazeta http://jazzgazeta.pl/)
"As the one of the guitar world’s high priests, and most generously hirsute at a very healthy looking 57, Pat Metheny remains a huge draw on the live circuit and one of the most consistently compelling soloists on the planet. Yet the guitarist’s career has zigzagged of late in what seems like a post-Pat Metheny Group era, the long-running unit seemingly shelved in favour of his impressive but slightly unnerving Orchestrion project, while he’s explored the freedoms of the trio setting on several tours (although never appearing in the UK) with Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez.
Thus, making their London debut here, the Unity Band – featuring the jaw-dropping sax playing of Chris Potter and the fluid brilliance of young bassist Ben Williams and powerful drumming of Sanchez – is a chance for Metheny to explore the full range of his polymath tendencies be they a solo acoustic guitar intro on both six string and 42-string Picasso guitar, full-bore high-tempo blowing alongside Potter, and yes a down-sized Orchestrion. Where all this places Pat artistically today was hardly a concern once Metheny’s oriental Picasso guitar sojourns dovetailed into Potter’s bass clarinet and the arrival of Williams and Sanchez kick started the group fireworks. Metheny’s solos remain a thing of wonder: melodic at any tempo and packed with fresh ideas, his fertile imagination and phenomenal technique show no signs of flagging.
Yet when you’re sharing the stage with Chris Potter you have to step up. For every hoop-leaping fretboard explosion Metheny could muster, the saxophonist repeatedly produced solos rich in melodic invention, winding up to stratospheric speeds. Potter is often cited as the natural successor to the sorely missed Michael Brecker, but on this showing he’s more than shaping his own distinctive style and sound.
Metheny was doubtless enjoying these high-energy moments, pushing Potter to new highs each time, with bass and drums perfectly simpatico to the collective cause. The Orchestrion was unveiled, quite literally from behind three strategically placed black curtains, as Metheny began a fractured string scraping guitar loop, before chiming vibes, accordion and timpani began to sound, all triggered via his guitar and some invisible computer wizardry. The band soon joined this multi-part mêlée and while the technology is dazzling in its flexibility, and Metheny’s mastery of re-setting the tempo on the fly was seamless, its presence seemed to stifle some of that ecstatic earlier energy.
No doubt conscious of this slightly over the top technical exercise Metheny followed this with three duets with his band mates – duelling in spectacular style with Potter on ‘All The Things You Are’, breaking out the blues with Williams and finishing with the fast and furious ‘Go Get It’ with Sanchez. Metheny remains one of the all time greats and the Unity Band, while unifying the many creative strands of his career so far, ultimately provides him with total freedom, wherever he feels like going today."
– Mike Flynn (Jazzwise Magazine)
‘For Metheny’s legion fans it is all here: folksy themes, tender melodic invention and careful song construction.’
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (4/5 album review by Garry Booth)
"Metheny infrequently records with reed players, although when he does — as shown by recordings with Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker — the collaborations become quite dramatic. Sparks fly again during Unity Band with the mingling of acoustic guitar and tenor sax on This Belongs to You and the darker, denser terrain of the boppish Breakdealer. Such tunes heavily suggest tradition, but the playing that fortifies the album — be it solo or ensemble — can't help but sound progressive."
-The Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky)
June 25, 2012 Monday
"….this quartet with saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez is the most exciting band Metheny has had since the new millennium began."
-Buffalo News (New York)
June 17, 2012 Sunday
‘Arguably one of Metheny’s best releases in recent times.’
‘The themes are typical
Metheny: sensuous Latin grooves, synth-guitar fusion, folksy ballads, a good
deal of jazz swing – and the rhythm section is mindboggling, not to
mention beautifully recorded. It's all about the playing skills of a
dazzling band, which live shows will undoubtedly ram home even harder.’
‘With regular drummer Antonio Sanchez perfectly
matched to new bassist Ben Williams, there’s an easy loping pulse to the best
tunes (all Pat’s own).’
‘Unity Band is a scintillating platform for Metheny’s fretboard wizardry... In a little over an hour, the Unity Band seems to capture and reconcile
so many of the diverse strands of Metheny’s long and distinguished
career.... It is abundantly clear that Metheny remains a distinctive
and vital force in today’s jazz.’
- JAZZ JOURNAL (4/5 album review by Fred Grand) (UK)
‘Metheny is a guitar superstar, or as close as anyone in contemporary jazz is ever likely to get. Each of these nine pieces has its own character – playful, mysterious, rhythmically compelling or folkishly tuneful – each one exquisitely performed and uniquely absorbing.’
- Observer (UK)
‘This is Metheny’s best recording in some time. Potter illuminates nine originals by guitar icon Metheny, switching between steel and nylon-stringed instruments and who offers occasional glimpses of his Orchestrion machine.’
- Evening Standard (UK)
‘Hurrah for Metheny re-energising himself on this, his best release for many a long year.’
- Jazzwise (UK)
‘Potter gives Metheny’s catchy themes edge, adds soprano and bass clarinet and makes the most of the terrific rhythm section. The leader remains taste personified, gentle on acoustic, acerbic when required, a perfect foil for Potter’s hard-boiled flights of fancy.’
- Financial Times (UK)
‘A sterling example of why Metheny is so respected and relevant today. In the closing piece Breakdealer, Metheny’s rhythmic drive and dark harmonic shifts demonstrate why no one unifies old jazz traditions and new fusion sonics quite like him.’
- Guitarist (UK)