irst of all, the material that makes up Imaginary Day is very fresh. Lyle and I both wrote music independently, as we always do, during January and February of this year before we got together. When we did get together we threw almost all of it out and pretty much started over.

"Generally our process is to write a whole bunch of stuff, even if they're just little eight-bar fragments of melodic ideas, or a groove, or whatever. Then we pick from these
45 or 50 snippets our favorite 20 or so and go from there. Our goal this time was to just let our imaginations go and to dream up settings and musical environments where it wasn't necessarily obvious that they would be within our immediate realm.

"On the last group album that we did ("Quartet"), we wrote a huge amount of music in about three days; we had just finished a tour and said, 'Okay, we're gonna do this record flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants - there was a LOT of improvised stuff that we put together quickly, rather than our usual extended preparation. That stimulated us to remember that we can let our imaginations carry us as far as we want. For example, the song "Imaginary Day" is a mix of impressions of an Oriental opera, gamelan music, and the blues. It was this kind of juxtaposition of disparate materials that set the tone that resonated with where I think both Lyle and I wanted to go this time compositionally."

"It seems that since the album We Live Here (1994) Lyle and I have been writing more closely than we ever have. It's hard to describe, but as we've gotten older I think we've learned to appreciate how unusual it is to find another person who has the same kinds of work habits and artistic values and commitment to trying new things. I think we both now realize we would never, ever find anyone else who functions in quite the same way each of us does for the other and we both value it now more than ever.

"It used to be that writing was occasionally difficult because we both have such strong ideas about music and so much of the collaborative process is the rejecting as well as the embracing of the other person's ideas. When we were younger there was a certain amount of, 'Whaddya mean that doesn't work, I think it's great.' Now we've written enough, together and individually, that we don't feel that we have anything to prove to each other, or to anyone else for that matter, and we just get right to it. It makes to entire process so much more fun now than it ever was before-
and it was already a blast anyway."

The Percussionists:

"At the time we began the record we really didn't have a percussionist. Armando Maral, who had been with us for about 10 years, felt like it was time to move on when he heard this music because one other notable thing about this album is there's not one note of the Brazilian-flavored stuff here that's been described as being one of our trademarks for a while. But we had been moving in that direction anyway. In a way it was good because because it gave us a chance to find the right percussionist for each track, although there are four cuts where three of the four guys we used played together and one long track ("The Awakening") where we have all of them. One of Mino Cinelu's instruments is called the wave drum; it's kind of a new instrument that can create instruments that don't exist in real life and still have that sort of tactile feel, that earthy feel you get from congas without it literally being one of those things."

November 1997 will find the Pat Metheny Group, augmented by new members Philip Hamilton (vocals and miscellaneous instruments) and percussionist Jeff Haynes (most recently part of the brilliant singer Cassandra Wilson's band), launching a year-long world tour. While the pmg is on the road, its leader will be part of a new cd by the quartet Bass Desires, led by bassist Marc Johnson and also including guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Joey Baron. The album will be issued in February 1998. This December, Metheny will be reunited in the studio with his former leader, the vibist Gary Burton, on an all-star date along with pianist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Roy Haynes (no relation to Jeff). And next summer he'll make a new recording with one of his musical models, guitarist-composer Jim Hall.

For now, though, seize the Imaginary Day - which for the Pat Metheny Group continues to dawn anew.

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