"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

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Monday, June 07, 2004

dancing about architecture, #2
in 1980 i purchased pat metheny's as falls wichita, so falls wichita falls. the album was a first for me on many levels: the first metheny album; the first album on the ECM label (but definitely not the last); the first 'jazz' album i owned. to call this album 'jazz' stretches the definition, though. not new age, not traditional jazz, not yet the worldly virtuoso showcases that he would later record, this record melded metheny's guitar tones with mays' synths and nana vasconcelos's muted percussion into an impressionistic soundscape. the title track, encompassing all of side one (remember vinyl?), painted a vast plain over which a looming spring storm gathered, scattering stray winds, and, at the 12:46 mark, burst into a warm shower of sparkling notes, fading away again a minute later. moments later metheny reads off the seconds on a clock as mays again paints with muted pastels, bringing the song to a gentle close amidst the sounds of children playing.

ozark is as exhilirating as the title track is serene, mays' piano and metheny's guitar capturing the crispness of mountain air on a bright, blue day. this is the song that first introduced me to metheny, as WLIR on long island was still liberal enough to mix in some jazz and fusion alongside the allman brothers and led zeppelin. ozark is a four minute drive along a cool mountain road.

jazz great bill evans died during the period in which metheny recorded this album; september 15th is dedicated to him, and it lovingly captures the sensitivity that characterized evans' most moving performances.

'it's for you' and estupenda graca end the album gracefully, featuring vasconcelos' vocals on both songs. these songs hinted at the direction metheny's music would take in the future. other albums, from american garage to letter from home, would be just as excellent, but this would be his last album to feature such a broad range of moods. it remains my favorite of his considerable output.

thanks for listening.
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