In 2012, guitarist Pat Metheny won a Grammy for his album Unity Band. That album featured his then newly formed group featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Antonio Sanchez. A year later, the Unity Group returned with Kin <-->, which found Metheny expanding the ensemble to include multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. Arriving in 2016, The Unity Sessions showcases that expanded version of the Unity Group live in a gorgeously produced one-off performance at New York's Black Box Theatre on the heels of their 2014 tour. Hoping to capture the synergy and collective dynamic forged over the yearlong tour, Metheny had the Unity Group set up at the Black Box just as they would for a live show. He then had the concert recorded and filmed, resulting in a unique document that is both studio recording and live performance. Here, we get cuts off both Unity Band and Kin <-->, as well as songs culled from Metheny's lengthy career. These run the gamut from acoustic classical pieces ("Adagia") to moody, groove-oriented modal fusion cuts ("Roofdogs") to atmospheric world music-inflected numbers ("Come and See") and more. Elsewhere, the ensemble summons a palpable warmth on the ruminative ballad "This Belongs to You," combines John Coltrane-esque spirituality and African rhythms on "On Day One," and dives headlong into the expansive flamenco-steeped anthem "Rise Up." They even make room for a sprightly duo version of the jazz standard "Cherokee," featuring lively interplay between Metheny and Potter. Ultimately, while Metheny is the undisputed leader here, it's the thoughtful interplay of all the Unity Group's members that makes these sessions so involving.
Performance CreditsPat Metheny Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Synthesizer Guitar,Performing Ensemble,electronics
Chris Potter Flute,Guitar,Bass Clarinet,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Giulio Carmassi Synthesizer,Piano,Flugelhorn,Vocals
Ben Williams Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Antonio Sanchez Drums,Cajon
Technical CreditsPat Metheny Arranger,Composer,Producer,Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Ray Noble Composer
Ornette Coleman Composer
Steve Rodby Producer
David Oakes Engineer
Carolyn Chrzan Guitar Techician
Pete Karam Engineer
Ted Kurland Executive Producer
Giulio Carmassi Whistle
Mark Janowitz Production Design
Austin Stillwell Monitors
Teo Stoll Drum Technician
Matthew Fleischmann Operation
Matthew Beighley Director
Benjamin Silverstein Lighting Director
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Unity Sessions based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guitarist Pat Metheny formed a new group during the mid 2010s that included sax player Chris Potter. Horns seldom make an appearance on Metheny recordings even though he is considered a jazz artist. Potter does change the dynamic on this live in the studio double disc project, but I found some of his free-form blowing on Disc 1 to be annoying. Disc 2 was more mellow and tuneful. I thought the final track where Metheny plays in a Hendrix style was an interesting change of pace. I give Unity Sessions about 3 and a half stars. Maybe now Metheny will return to a more typical lineup.