Pat Metheny Unity Band
with Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez & Ben Williams
Pat Metheny was born in Kansas City on August 12, 1954 into a musical family. Starting on trumpet at the age of eight, Metheny switched to guitar at age 12. By the age of 15, he was working regularly with the best jazz musicians in Kansas City, receiving valuable on-the-bandstand experience at an unusually young age. Metheny first burst onto the international jazz scene in 1974. Over the course of his three-year stint with vibraphone great Gary Burton, the young Missouri native already displayed his soon-to-become trademarked playing style, which blended the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility -- a way of playing and improvising that was modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues. With the release of his first album, Bright Size Life (1975), he reinvented the traditional "jazz guitar" sound for a new generation of players. Throughout his career, Pat Metheny has continued to redefine the genre by utilizing new technology and constantly working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument.
Metheny's versatility is almost nearly without peer on any instrument. Over the years, he has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Milton Nascimento, David Bowie, and many more. He has been part of a writing team with keyboardist Lyle Mays for more than twenty years -- an association that has been compared to the Lennon/McCartney and Ellington/Strayhorn partnerships by critics and listeners alike. Metheny's body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, small ensembles, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras, and ballet pieces, with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical.
As well as being an accomplished musician, Metheny has also participated in the academic arena as a music educator. At 18, he was the youngest teacher ever at the University of Miami. At 19, he became the youngest teacher ever at the Berklee College of Music, where he also received an honorary doctorate in 1996, more than twenty years later. He has also taught music workshops all over the world, from the Dutch Royal Conservatory to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to clinics in Asia and South America.
He has also been a true musical pioneer in the realm of electronic music, and was one of the very first jazz musicians to treat the synthesizer as a serious musical instrument. Years before the invention of MIDI technology, Metheny was using the Synclavier as a composing tool. He has also been instrumental in the development of several new kinds of guitars such as the soprano acoustic guitar, the 42-string Pikasso guitar, Ibanez's PM-100 jazz guitar, and a variety of other custom instruments.
It is one thing to attain popularity as a musician, but it is another to receive the kind of acclaim Metheny has garnered from critics and peers. Over the years, Metheny has won countless polls as "Best Jazz Guitarist" and awards, including three gold records for (Still Life) Talking, Letter from Home, and Secret Story. He has also won 19 GRAMMY® Awards spread out over a variety of different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, and Best Instrumental Composition. The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammys for seven consecutive albums. Metheny has spent most of his life on tour, averaging between 120-240 shows a year since 1974. At the time of this writing, he continues to be one of the brightest stars of the jazz community, dedicating time to both his own projects and those of emerging artists and established veterans alike, helping them to reach their audience as well as realizing their own artistic visions.
Pat Metheny on the Unity Band:
Chris Potter, saxophone
I have been a big fan of Chris Potter since I first heard him with Red Rodney many years ago and have watched him grow into one of the major forces in the current jazz world. Over 40 recordings, it has only happened that I have used only two other saxophone players along the way, Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman. Chris is a guy who inspires me much the same way those guys did. He has developed a sound and identity that is deep and always interesting and exciting. I am thrilled we will be joining forces for this project. I can’t wait to play with him.
Ben Williams, bass
I first heard Ben Williams perform as a student at Juilliard. In that way that only happens on occasion, by the time he was eight bars into his first solo of the night, I was convinced that this was an important new musician on the scene. He has a natural melodic sense that is rare and a great sound. He is a complete player with a wide ranging background and lots of diverse musical interests. He is one of the most impressive bass players to appear in many years.
Antonio Sanchez, drums
Antonio Sanchez and I have developed a rapport over the past 12 years that is significant. In 2000, I hired him to join my regular group where he has made fantastic contributions and then formed a trio (2003) that combined his talents with another of my favorite partners, bassist Christian McBride. With that trio, we made several records but played hundreds of concerts around the world over the years. With Antonio, anything is possible. He will be the perfect drummer for this exciting new project.