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Way Up

The Way Up

5.0 4
by Pat Metheny Group
Guitarist Pat Metheny is nothing if not ambitious, consistently displaying daring turns of musical direction throughout his three-decade career. Still, The Way Up may be his boldest release. Featuring a single composition more than an hour in length, the album presents Metheny at his best as bandleader, conceptualist, and composer, not to mention stunning


Guitarist Pat Metheny is nothing if not ambitious, consistently displaying daring turns of musical direction throughout his three-decade career. Still, The Way Up may be his boldest release. Featuring a single composition more than an hour in length, the album presents Metheny at his best as bandleader, conceptualist, and composer, not to mention stunning instrumentalist. Abundant credit must also be given to his writing collaborator, longtime keyboardist Lyle Mays, and the overall contributions of the Pat Metheny Group, one of the most gifted bands in contemporary jazz. Metheny makes the most of the wide instrumental array that his musicians provide: trumpet, fretless bass, synthesizers, acoustic piano, vocals, varied percussion, and, with the addition of Gregoire Maret, harmonica. The overall effect is stunning, a magical, unclassifiable weave of sounds, musical genres, melodies, and rhythms. Taking advantage of the wealth of resources he now has at his disposal as well as tapping fully into his own musical maturity, Metheny has delivered a masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The Way Up is the Pat Metheny Group's debut offering for Nonesuch Records. Comprised of a single, sprawling, 68-minute composition by Metheny and Lyle Mays -- divided into four sections on CD -- it is an unprecedented new direction for the band. The lineup is the same as on Speak of Now from 2003 -- Metheny and Mays on keyboards, bassist Steve Rodby, drummer Antonio Sanchéz, and trumpeter/vocalist Cuong Vu. New to the roster is Swiss/American harmonicat Gregoire Maret. While the sound here is instantly recognizable as PMG, it is dazzling and labyrinthine in shape, sound, and texture. Painstakingly composed, The Way Up also offers large open sections for solo improvisation and group interplay. The work's theme is stated in part one, unfolding gradually as skeletal layered guitars, samples, and other gentle electronics ease the frame into view, Sanchéz's drumming creating an insistent pulse. Mays' piano and Metheny's guitar engage in contrapuntal arpeggios and Vu enters haltingly with the actual line before the ensemble engages it as a whole. Brief melodic interludes usher in the longish second section seamlessly, where lyric fragments become full-blown statements, as the band's trademark restrained dynamic slips in unobtrusively before erupting into sheer euphoria with layered, crunchy, and fat six-strings, lilting harmonicas, and trumpets in tandem, all buoyed by Mays and Rodby, who underscore Sanchéz's skittering cymbal dance. As it progresses, the band takes more chances, walking out onto a ledge and simply jumping off -- while never losing the deep, lush lyricism inherent in the composition's body. The thematic body and the hook at its core are infectious. These, too, open inwardly to an entirely new set of musical ideas in the middle of the section that changes no less than three times in its 26-minute duration. Mays' piano, an acoustic guitar, and Rodby's fretless bass tiptoe ghostlike into part three before Vu once more shimmers and spatters colorful notes across the top in a hush before allowing Maret to bring the entire line into being. Spare, careful, and emotionally moving, it builds until the entire band gels and cracks it into a breezy elegant walk through airy harmonics and slippery rhythms before notions of counterpoint, dense syncopated rhythmic figures (à la Steve Reich), and tight, tense dynamics segue into the final section. Here is where all previous elements come together into a swinging whole. Fueled by Mays' ostinato in the intro, Metheny's soloing winds around the outside, punctuating and stretching it as electronics paint the backdrop. The band locks into the groove before Maret and Vu add banners of expressionistic color. The Way Up feels more like a jazz concerto than anything else. If anything, it may actually be the record Metheny and Mays have been trying to make for over two decades. It is the place between the cracks, where defined genres disappear into a poetic whole and what emerges is something utterly new, guided and inspired by the limitless creativity of the jazz tradition.

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Pat Metheny Group   Primary Artist
Pat Metheny   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Synthesizer Guitar,Slide Guitar
Lyle Mays   Piano,Keyboards,Toy Xylophone
Steve Rodby   Violin,Electric Bass,Cello,Acoustic Bass
Antonio Sanchez   Drums,Toy Xylophone
Cuong Vu   Trumpet,Voices,Whistle (Instrument)
David Samuels   Percussion
Richard Bona   Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,Voices
Grégoire Maret   Harmonica

Technical Credits

Pat Metheny   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Rob Eaton   Engineer
Lyle Mays   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Steve Rodby   Producer,Audio Production,Sheet Music
David Oakes   Engineer
Carolyn Chrzan   Guitar Techician
Pete Karam   Engineer

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The Way Up 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
SigmundTP More than 1 year ago
I am not being mean when I say most modern jazz groups are like fast food, They give you a good tune that makes you move and tickels your music bone, BUT with that being said along comes Pat Metheny Group and you are taken on a journey of EPIC and the window that you are looking through will never be the same. You are never cocern with the destinition because you become apart of the journey and you never care where they take you. When Pat and Lyle are in the driver seat you know that the journey will be one that fills your soul to a level that you never thought it could come to. From; As Fall Witicha so falls Withica Falls to The Way up you feel that they are True Space and there is no limits.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"The Way up" is one of the best albums I've bought this year. It's unique, colorful, and full of rhythem. Each part has its own feel to it, and yet everything ties together in the end. If you haven't bought it, please go get it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is one of the most unbelieveable works of art I have ever heard. PMG crosses so many spectrums of jazz, it's just incredible. This CD is a must have for any jazz fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt one of the best albums I've ever heard. Of course, I have a slight bias because I went to a concert during the Way Up tour and was mesmerized to say the least, but the album is still outstanding. It is not like Pat Metheny's solo albums; the number of instruments played (or at least the number I saw in concert) was around 100, as opposed to the usual 3. This is one of the most inspirational scores I've ever heard.