and slide guitars; Lyle Mays, acoustic piano & keyboards; Steve
Rodby, acoustic & electric bass & cello; Guong Vu, trumpet
& voice; Gregoire Maret, harmonica; Antonio Sanchez, drums) –
Nonesuch 79876-2, 68:10 *****:
Leave it to
Metheny to turn out some of the most creative guitar-based modern jazz
today. He’s been at it for 30 years; no wonder. Following his own
highly individual path which has little in common with mainstream jazz.
He seems to come from the general fusion genre but moves outward in
every direction from there, creating a unique mix of modern chamber
music, symphonic, electronics, sound effects, film music and
atmospheric textures that let your imagination run wild. And
maintaining an accessible harmonically-based idiom throughout this
concept album. There are no “tunes” here – just 68 minutes of
continuous music consisting of an opening track and three parts – which
carries you away. Metheny was assisted by his longtime collaborator
Lyle Mays, and whole thing holds together like a Bruckner symphony. I
thought of Chopin’s four Ballades, which also tell adventurous stories
without every having a specific program – you create your own while
listening. Among the many ear-tickling timbres during the musical
journey is a nostalgic-sounding toy instrument ensemble, with the
performers playing toy guitars, toy xylophone, toy whistle and so on.
The series of photographs on the note booklet (with no notes) continues
the theme of do-it-yourself storytelling.