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Continuing his sonic explorations
TO call Pat Metheny a musical chameleon might be a little bit of an understatement - after all, the jazz guitarist and composer has been known to reinvent himself with every album he makes, though he's not one to give much thought to his ongoing evolution. Which is why the wide-ranging jazz music-scape works perfectly for the 60-year-old, whose only trademark through his four-decade-strong career must be his unmistakably frizzy head of hair.
In fact, the critically acclaimed Metheny doesn't even like to think he's working within the confines of a single genre. "I am not a huge fan of the whole idea of 'genre' or styles of music kind of to start with (because) to me, music is one big universal thing," states the Missouri native, via an e-mail interview.
Metheny will playing in Singapore at the Esplanade as part of its Mosaic Music Series on Monday with his band, Unity Group. His last show here was in 2006 where he performed as a trio with a different group of musicians. Metheny adds: "The musicians who I have admired the most are the ones who have a deep reservoir of knowledge and insight not just about music, but about life in general and are able to illuminate the things that they love in sound."
Hence, he considers himself as a musician in the broadest sense; one who is "interested in the spirit and sound of music itself". That, in turn, has led to him dabbling in a wide range of sounds throughout his career - ranging from contemporary jazz to post-bop, latin, fusion, and acoustic - as well as working as a solo artist and with different groups of artists.
His latest, Pat Metheny Unity Group - featuring Chris Potter on saxophone, Ben Williams on bass, Antonio Sanchez on drums and Giulio Carmassi on various instruments - is based on the same quartet (sans Carmassi) which he recorded the Grammy-winning Unity Band album with in 2012.
They reunited in the middle of last year in the studio to record a follow-up, Kin, which the five-piece is currently touring on the back of. "The band has gone onto to a whole different level with very different sound, but with the hard-core quartet thing still sitting right in the middle of it," explains Metheny, who refers to the expanded line-up as the "3D IMAX version". "With this group, I can really cover everything from throughout my whole career, all under one roof ... I love being around musicians who can really contribute," he enthuses, before adding they've played over 130 cities in around 40 countries since February this year.
That comradeship extends all the way to the title of the new album because Metheny says the word "kin", like "unity", not only describes the bond he has forged artistically with his new group but also how the record connects back to all the other music he loves.
Naturally, the 20-time-Grammy-winner says he's not done with his sonic explorations and is still keen to seek further musical adventures. "My goal is to be really honest and committed in trying to offer the things that I have found to be true and meaningful in life - in sound," Metheny declares. "I really feel I am just beginning to get a sense of it all - I feel like I am just starting to figure a few things out (and) there is an infinity of things to learn and work on."
Pat Metheny Unity Group performs at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Oct 27 at 7.30pm. Tickets from S$48 to S$128 available from Sistic online and at the venue