Belfast’s Waterfront concert hall welcomes world renown jazz guitarist, composer and multi Grammy award winner Pat Metheny for the first time to the city this Tuesday for a concert with his quartet comprising British pianist Gwilym Simcock, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Antonio Sanchez, who has played alongside him for the last 17 years.
Citing the Beatles, Miles Davis, and Wes Montgomery as having the biggest impact on his music, Missouri-born Metheny’s official debut album, Bright Size Life, was released in 1975.
Since then he has achieved three gold albums for Still Life (Talking), Letter from Home and Secret Story and 20 Grammy Awards and is the only person to win Grammys in twelve different categories, including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition. He was also one of the first jazz musicians to treat the synthesizer as a serious musical instrument.
In addition to producing a wide range of albums, he has won many awards including being named ‘Best Jazz Guitarist’ by ‘Guitar Player’ magazine in five different years and was recently inducted into the ‘Downbeat Hall of Fame’ as its youngest member and only the fourth guitarist (joining Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery).
Metheny’s body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras, and ballet pieces, with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical. The ‘Pat Metheny Group’ won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums.
Recently, he created the critically acclaimed large scale work ‘Hommage’ for Eberhard Weber and performed it at events throughout Europe, Japan and America. He also served as artist-in- residence for the Detroit Jazz Festival performing with his own ensembles.
In terms of his tour, he said, “I thought it would be fun and interesting to put together a really select group of musicians who could cover the widest range of everything I have done previously and could also possibly develop into something beyond that with a lot of playing together under our belts.
He continued, “The tour could really be anything and everything. I have already written a bunch of new music inspired just by the thought of this presentation, but I could also imagine playing only old music one night, or even playing entire albums. I like the idea of keeping it open and letting it become whatever it winds up being over the course of a tour. At this stage, I have so much music and it all is kind of one big thing for me without borders or distinctions between this period or that period. With Antonio, Linda and Gwilym, I think we could and will do a wide range of things from throughout all of it – and maybe uncover what the next period has in store as well”.
Antonio Sanchez met recent success with his musical score for the Oscar-winning Alejandro G. Innaritu directed movie ‘Birdman.’ His score was nominated for a Golden Globe award and a Grammy award last year. “Antonio is always incredible,” said Meheny. “He is one of the greatest drummers of all time and the fact that we have been able to share so much music together over these years is something really special for both of us.”
Malaysian/Australian bassist Linda May Han Oh has been extremely active on the New York scene for the past few years, playing with many of the major musicians in the community. “I love to follow who the new players around town and I go out often to check out what everyone is doing,” said Meheny. “The first time I heard Linda, she immediately went to the top of my list of candidates.”
British pianist Gwilym Simcock is considered to be one of the most exciting new players to emerge in many years. “When I listened to his CD, I became an instant fan,” said Meheny. “Gwilym is simply one of the best piano players I have heard in a long, long time. After trying to find time to get together over a number of years, in 2014 I was finally able to stay over after a gig in London do some playing. We had planned on getting together for a few hours or so, but wound up playing continuously for an entire afternoon.”