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Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live(2005)
From the beginning, this band has been on a mission. Throughout the group's history, there has been a sense of potential and an abundance of ideas that have been thrilling to explore. The Way Up is a long form piece that describes in detail many of the most pressing issues in our musical lives. The original recording (2004) was a milestone for us, but the tour that followed allowed us the opportunity to discover the piece in front of audiences around the world over the course of a 6 month tour. This film, shout during the Asian leg of that tour in Seoul, Korea, is an accurate and special documentation of the group at its best, performing The Way Up - Live.
For more about Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live and the Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray release, see Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray Review published by Sir Terrence on April 17, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray Review
"This is a captivating performance that fans will not soon forget"
Reviewed by Sir Terrence, April 17, 2009
Arriving on the jazz scene in the mid 70's, Pat Metheny has explored the jazz genre in so many ways I cannot keep track. His work is commonly called jazz fusion, and while it shares commonalities with that flavor of jazz, I would call it more improvisational rather than fusion. Metheny first album Bright Size Life was a solo work, however his second album Watercolors was the true beginning of the group. Over the years the group has had many members, each adding a unique flavor to the musical texture of the band. There has always been one constant from this group, and it is Pat Metheny and pianist Lyle Mays. This duo has produced 13 albums with 11 winning Grammy awards for best jazz fusion performance, and best contemporary jazz album. Starting from the first album, this duo collaborated on they created a unique sound for the period using unconventional jazz instruments, varying tempo changes, and complex rhythmic patterns.
During the 80's, the group enjoyed widespread success filling their sound with Brazilian rhythms and percussion. Guest musicians often toured with the group, most notably Armando Marcal. During the 90's, the group moved away from the South American influence and began to experiment with hip hop rhythm loops, free form improvisations, the blues, symphonic, and sonata musical themes. At the end of the 90's, the group went on a brief hiatus that would have them re-emerge in 2002 with a new direction and younger musicians. The Way Up represents Metheny's response to the perceived trend audiences have a short attention span, and don't like music that has a lot of complexity, detail, and nuance.
"The Way Up: Opening" – 5:17
"The Way Up: Part One" – 26:27
"The Way Up: Part Two" – 20:29
"The Way Up: Part Three" – 15:54
The Pat Metheny Group:
Pat Metheny - acoustic guitar, electric guitar, synth guitar
Lyle Mays - piano, keyboards
Steve Rodby - bass, cello
Cuong Vu - trumpet, voice
Gregoire Maret - harmonica, percussion Antonio Sanchez - drums
With the following musicians making guest appearances:
Richard Bona - percussion, voice
Dave Samuels - percussion
Nando Lauria - backup guitars, voice, percussion
The Way Up Live sounds more like a symphonic work than contemporary jazz or fusion. It feels more like movements rather than individual pieces. To support this notion take note that the concert is labeled "Opening", "Part One", "Part Two" and "Part Three". There are no repetitive melodies and nothing that will keep you whistling long after the concert is over. Instead you get wave after wave of instrumental and musical textures, beautiful tonal colors, ever changing rhythms, and sampled sound effects that I found it completely fascinating and compelling. Just when I thought I could sense a recognizable pattern, they twist the flow in a different way. For some folks this will be difficult to sit through, and it doesn't help that there isn't much movement from the musicians, no fancy light show, no LED walls with flashy visuals to keep your attention. It is just the band, their individual and collective talents, and the music.
Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p with the MPEG-2 codec - framed in a 1:78:1 visual window, The Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up Live looks gorgeous to the eyes. Detail is outstanding as facial features, detail in clothing, and even the names of the different keyboards are well rendered. Images are sharp, edges clean, and not a sign of compression artifacts to dog the presentation. Black levels are inky deep without a hint of crush. Contrast is dead on, and along with deep blacks gives images a punchy three dimensional look that is exceptionally impressive. Colors are vibrant and sometimes dramatic, but tend to stick towards primaries as the simplistic lighting effects do not allow for much mixing. The lighting while simplistic, gave each movement an appropriate if not dramatic mood.
Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Way Up Live features three audio tracks; a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track at a 16/48khz bit and sample rate, a Dolby Digital track encoded at 448kbps, and a PCM two channel track at 16/48khz bit and sample rate. I listened to all three, but focused on the excellent DTS-HD Master Audio track and heard subtle difference in all three. Audio fine detail is first-rate, with the high end sweet, open, and airy. Every nuance, whether it is a triangle, the incredibly complex sampled horn effects, the quick transients from the plucked strings on the guitar, or the individual samples from the keyboards were all very well represented. Bass is clean and even from the top down; never sticking out of the mix. All instruments are expertly mixed and clearly heard even when the volume gets pumped up.
The DTS lossless track had imaging that was slightly blurred when compared to the less spatial but more stable two channel PCM track. The DTS track also sounded more front focused than the Dolby Digital track. The Dolby Digital track sounded a bit lifeless in the front hemisphere, but livelier and better delineated in the surround field when compared to the DTS track. Overall I preferred the DTS lossless track, but not that far was the two channel PCM mix.
Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The bonus content on this disc is some of the best bonus material I have watched in a long time. For those not really familiar with Metheny's group, this is an excellent place to start before watching the concert.
Interview with Pat Metheny (HD - 22 minutes) is an engaging look into the past of the Pat Metheny's band, and Methany himself.
Blu-ray exclusive: Band Members Bio's is a wealth of information on the individual band members.
Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up, Live Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This brand of jazz is not going to attract many as it is too complex, too rhythmatically challenging to the ear, non melodic, compositionally long, and with very non traditional breaks between segments. Some may find this tough to sit through. However those who prefer this type of representation of jazz (Metheny fans like me) will find this a compelling treat you cannot take your eyes or ears off. You will not get visual pyrotechnics, nor should you look for musicians' head banging or running all over the stage. If you are just listening to this artist for the first time, rent the disc. If you are a fan, hit that Amazon button and order this high definition concert performance toot sweet.
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