Guitarist Pat Metheny has had a long and storied career, with a distinctive sound and one-of-a-kind style on the instrument. He’s also a prolific composer and performer, with his playing appearing on well over 30 albums under his own name and at least twice that many again as a featured player. But the one thing he hasn’t done is an entire album of covers, an oversight remedied with his latest recording, What’s It All About.
Following the lead of his 2003 album One Quiet Night, Metheny opted to play all these pieces as solo guitar works, and, just to complicate things, opted to do all the songs in one day of recording. He used a solo baritone guitar for most of the album (shades again of the One Quiet Night project), but also pulled out his 42-string (!) Pikasso guitar for one song, standard six-string for a cover of a surf instrumental, and nylon-string for another piece.
What may be the most interesting thing about the album is that the covers are basically all songs that inspired Metheny to pick up the instrument – a few jazz, and quite a few pop songs – and some of them are, well, at first glance, not quite as “hip” as you might expect. Like a true master, though, he follows the example of musicians like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins and uses the melodies as jumping-off points for something much grander and real, turning the songs into essential, and often very emotional, listening.
It’s Pat Metheny’s album What’s It All About, plus a chance (in the morning edition) to win tickets as WTTS Presents Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at the Vogue on November 25th, on this week’s episode of OverEasy, 7 to 11am AND pm, on 92.3 WTTS.