Guitarist Pat Metheny first caught the attention of many listeners when he followed Larry Coryell’s footsteps in vibraphonist Gary Burton’s bands during the mid-1970s. Metheny then cut a series of recordings as a leader for the ECM label, beginning with 1975’s Bright Size Life, which featured bassist Jaco Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses (another Burton alumnus).
Throughout the next 30-plus years, Metheny has released three dozen recordings as a band leader that are wide-ranging in scope and personnel. Perhaps best known for his Pat Metheny Group recordings, Metheny has returned often over the years to the trio format that marked his debut.
When he stops in Louisville on Monday, Metheny does so with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchéz. McBride is the bassist of choice for recording projects ranging from straight-ahead jazz to funk. He has released a half-dozen albums as a leader but is credited on hundreds of recordings by other artists. In 2006 alone, he released Live at Tonic, a three-CD set of lengthy funk-oriented jams, and New York Time, a more mainstream effort. Sanchéz just released his first solo CD, Migration, which includes guest appearances by Metheny and Chick Corea.
In a September interview, Metheny was exuberant about his forthcoming tour. Although this particular lineup has not yet released any recordings, the musicians have been touring for the past few years around the world.
Metheny says the trio’s repertoire continues to expand, and includes material from his Group, rearranged for McBride and Sanchéz, as well as compositions written especially for these musicians and a few standards. A concert from the Estival Jazz Festival from 2004 in Switzerland, which is circulating among traders, shows the brilliance of these musicians. The live show includes Metheny classics like “Last Train Home,” as-yet-untitled originals and Horace Silver’s “Lonely Woman.”
Asked what draws him to the trio format, Metheny says, “It’s a recurring area of interest to me. There is a maximum amount of blank white paper that still contains a connection to the larger part of the jazz tradition. At the same time, it’s real open-ended.
Metheny was effusive in his praise of McBride and Sanchéz: “This particular (trio) is a unique and distinctive band — both Antonio and Christian are a generation younger than I; they are ecumenical, non-denominational. They are both state of the art on their respective instruments; they have both successfully absorbed 80 years of what is expected of players.”
Trios aren’t new to Metheny, however, this is the first venture that includes Sanchéz. “Antonio is the drummer I thought would never be born. I may well do a duo record with him,” he says.
As for McBride, Metheny says, “I have known him since he was about 16. I knew immediately he was ‘the guy.’”
Metheny says he likes “the idea of mixing Christian and Antonio — they never played together before. I have a little bit of a matchmaking thing. Christian and Antonio are both so strong, they are normally the dominant members of their bands. They have found a way of playing together that’s not like the way they play with anyone else.”
The trio has a record due out in January, and this show may well be a prelude of what is to come.
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Pat Metheny Trio
w/ Christian McBride & Antonio Sanchez
Monday, Nov. 5
W.L. Lyons Brown Theatre
315 W. Broadway
7:30 p.m., $29.50-$58.50