Pat Metheny ‘Orchestrion Project’ 2CD (Nonesuch) 5/5

If the studio version of Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion project whetted the appetite for more, then the live version from the 2010 tour is even better and includes not only all five compositions off the original album, but equally some tasty reworkings of his vast back catalogue and a couple of improvisations that are a sheer delight. The lovely bright feel to ‘Spirit of the air’ typifies the album as a whole and this is a beautifully constructed piece with trademark Metheny licks that hark back to the Wes Montgomery era. With all the ambience of a full Pat Metheny Group recording, ‘Expansion’ features some gorgeous layered textures that features piano, vibes and percussion and this is an exquisite flowing piece with Metheny pushing himself to the limit on this driving number. Both improvisatory pieces impress with number two a simple rhythm over which the guitarist embellishes the sound with increasingly complex layers. Of the classic compositions, ‘Sueño con Mexico’ which originally featured on the 1970s ECM album ‘New Chutauqua’, maintains the repetitive riff of the orginal while adding some Methenyesque improvisations on top. Quite simply one of his most beautiful of all pieces and that acoustic feel that so distinguished the orginal is rightly retained to stunning effect. The evocative and melodic number ‘Antonia’ displays the full range of instrumentation that Metheny has programmed and these include marimba, piano and what sounds like a melodica. Metheny’s storytelling quality is exploited to the full on ‘Tell her you saw me’ which like other numbers from his repertoire has a film soundtrack atmosphere to it. The proof of the pudding here is that at no point does one ever have the feeling that the music is being generated than anything other than a supremely creative human being and this is precisely what Pat Metheny and still managing to remain on the very top of his game.

Tim Stenhouse