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Pat Metheny 'MoonDial'

Upcoming Release Date: July 26, 2024

With the release of Dream Box in the spring of 2023, I took off on a long solo tour around the world, sitting alone onstage for two and a half hours for the very first time. I had played a few tunes here and there by myself each night for years but had never built a presentation that focused solely on solo guitar playing for such an extended run of concerts.

This was a tour that represented not just the sound and conception of the Dream Box release but also was an opportunity for me to look at some of the other ways I have released records in a solo setting across the years.

Along with music from Dream Box, the concerts gave me a chance to revisit and extend the concepts represented on projects like New Chautauqua, Zero Tolerance for Silence, One Quiet Night, What's It All About, even a bit of Orchestrion and more, all in one setting. Each one of those solo recordings, like Dream Box, is distinct in some way and unlike the others.

The idea is to try to keep coming up with different angles and ways of thinking about music while hopefully keeping a fundamental aesthetic at work in all of it. In other words, to continue the research.

Just before the tour started, I made a discovery.

Some years back, I had asked Linda Manzer, one of the best luthiers on the planet and one of my major collaborators, to build me yet another acoustic Baritone guitar, but this time one with nylon strings as opposed to the steel string version that I had used on the records One Quiet Night and What's It All About.

My deep dive into the world of Baritone guitar began when I remembered that as a kid in Missouri, a neighbor had shown me a unique way of stringing where the middle two strings are tuned up an octave while the general tuning of the Baritone instrument remains down a 4th or a 5th. This opened up a dimension of harmony that had been previously unavailable to me on any conventional guitar.

There were never really issues with Linda's guitar itself, but finding nylon strings that could manage that tuning without a) breaking or b) sounding like a banjo - was difficult.

Just before we hit the road, I ran across a company in Argentina (Magma) that specialized in making a new kind of nylon string with a tension that allowed precisely the sound I needed to make Linda's Baritone guitar viable in my special tuning.

It has happened to me a few times along the way where an instrument has instantly peeled open up a whole new range of possibilities. The initial moments spent with the Roland guitar synth of the late 70s/early 80s come to mind as another example.

Literally, minutes after finally finding nylon strings that could handle this tuning and placing them on the Manzer guitar, I again experienced one of those revelatory flashes.

There was suddenly a whole new palette of sound under my fingers, just like that.

This all occurred just three days before the tour was set to begin. But there was no doubt that this was something that I could jump right into on the bandstand.

Across the first 50+ concerts of the tour, I gradually introduced this new instrument. At first, it was just one tune. Then two. By the time the tour's first leg ended, Linda's nylon-string Baritone guitar could be twenty or twenty-five minutes of the concert. It is a beautiful, rich, almost infinite feeling new world for me.

As soon as that first part of the tour went to break, I headed into the studio. I wanted to capture the magic of this new sound as quickly as possible and build on the immediate experiences that emerged from playing it every night for several months while it was all still fresh.

The result of this journey is this recording; MoonDial.

While it fits exactly in line as a followup to One Quiet Night and What's It All About in that it is a purely solo guitar record - just me, the guitar, and a mic - but with the particular sound of nylon strings, it offers a very different kind of feeling.

These recordings took place across a few winter nights during that first brief hiatus in the Dream Box tour at the end of 2023.

The challenge was to whittle down the dozens of tunes I had found myself drawn to during the many overtime soundchecks and dressing room practice sessions spent with this new axe while on the road with it. I couldn't put the thing down.

Finally, I settled on a repertoire. Featured here are some new originals written just for this instrument, a couple of older tunes of mine revisited, a treasured Chick Corea piece dedicated here to my longtime friend, all mixed together with a few of my favorite songs by other composers from across the eras.

The feeling of this record follows the instrument's nature. The central vibe here is one of resonant contemplation. This guitar allows me to go deep. Deep to a place that I maybe have never quite gotten to before. This is a dusk-to-sunrise record, hard-core mellow.

I have often found myself as a listener searching for music to fill those hours, and honestly, I find it challenging to find the kinds of things I like to hear. As much "mellow" music as there is out there, a lot of it just doesn't do the thing for me.

This record might offer something to the insomniacs and all-night folks looking for the same sounds, harmonies, spirits, and melodies that I was in pursuit of during the late nights and early mornings that this music was recorded.

There were a lot of clear nights during that December, and in my imagination, it seemed like the moon was checking out what I was searching for up on the upstate NY mountain where I was recording.

This music is a reflection of those solitary winter hours for me. But mostly, it represents a new sonic and harmonic realm that I hope everyone will enjoy hearing as much as I have enjoyed getting to know it.