r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 12 16:01:03 EDT 2007


On much of the second collaboration between the
guitarist Pat Metheny and the pianist Brad Mehldau,
time decelerates; music seems to hang in the air by an
invisible string. This streamlined, weightless feeling
has been rigorously worked out for more than a decade
by Mr. Mehldau’s trio, and here it’s his gift to Mr.
Metheny. Conversely Mr. Metheny’s work — especially
the 20 or so years of it predating Mr. Mehldau’s
emergence in jazz — gave this pianist an open,
pastoral-sounding harmonic vocabulary to build on in
his formation as a composer and improviser. 

The music on “Quartet” — three pieces written by Mr.
Mehldau, seven by Mr. Metheny and one together — keeps
changing. Some tracks have tight pop surfaces; some
are bumpier with swing rhythm and dissonant chords;
some are piano-and-guitar duets; one, Mr. Metheny’s
“Towards the Light,” has a nimbuslike atmosphere, with
echo on Mr. Mehldau’s piano, a long solo from Mr.
Metheny’s hornlike guitar-synthesizer. And “Fear and
Trembling,” written by Mr. Mehldau, sounds like one of
his pieces except in the section where Mr. Metheny
rips it up quickly and noisily on electric guitar.
With a mixture of sonics, harmonic logic and headlong
improvisational stamina, Mr. Metheny can completely
alter the character of someone else’s chord changes. 

Here — more so than on the pair’s earlier, quieter,
duet-heavy record, released last fall — the
collaboration seems to have started long before the
two musicians got together; who’s responsible for what
parts becomes a chicken-or-egg question. It’s a strong
foundation for working together. BEN RATLIFF


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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