Guitarist Pat Metheny has taken so many paths in his career that it almost seems strange when he ends up on the straight and narrow. But that’s exactly where he lands on this set of traditional trio pieces.
A restless experimenter with both form and sound, Metheny mostly keeps his tone crisp, his lines clean, and his approach cool. On “At Last You’re Here,” he mixes chiming chords with single-note phrases to create a bit of dramatic tension. He does occasionally break this mold, most notably with a screaming, singing solo on the brooding highlight “When We Were Free.”
The 10 selections, all originals, run through a variety of moods, from the pensive “Snova” to the lightly swinging “Calvin’s Keys,” but the overall effect is comfortably laid back. Things take a downward turn on the acoustic on “Is This America? (Katrina 2005).” With a title like that, you know it’ll be an earnestly mournful tune, but this one traffics in trite sentimentality. Fortunately, the hard-edged, reggae-inflected “The Red One” serves as a suitable antidote.
Drummer Antonio Sanchez provides a little edge with well-placed rim shots, while bassist Christian McBride – another virtuoso with an eclectic résumé – drives each piece with big, sinuous lines. And McBride’s solos on “At Last You’re Here” and “Dreaming Trees” glide along as easily as any of Metheny’s. It’s a solid, polished effort – if a bit tame by Metheny’s standards.
- John Frederick Moore