Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hair Guitar

Live: Pat Metheny Trio
Yoshi's, San Francisco, California

What is this strange creature appearing from behind Yoshi's sumptuous red velvet curtains? It's Pat Metheny, sporting one of the most spectacular hairdos I've ever seen. And it's not only his trademark thatch which is in fine fettle tonight, as he proves when he settles into a brief solo acoustic set on his legendary custom-made Pikasso guitar. Metheny fashions intriguing combinations of sounds on Make Peace and The Sound of Water.

He is soon joined by drummer Anton Sanchez and bassist Christian McBride, a contemporary jazz legend in his own right. By the fifth number This is not America, although I’m having a good time, I’m not sure I’m actually feeling anything. At best it's a kind of muted exhilaration.

Having said that, you don't realize how good a song is until it's finished and you go, “Gee, that was great!”

I mean, come on, Metheny is a hugely popular artist who has sold millions of records and won a mind-boggling 17 Grammy Awards.

The band’s bluesy jazz fusion interpolation of So May It Secretly Begin captures my attention during an extended workout between bass and drums. It’s appropriately jazzy in a modern, cool way but the respectful hush of the crowd is quite unreasonably driving me mad. On the whole they seem like nerdy San Francisco types who require intellectual explications of musical phenomena in order to confirm they've had an emotional experience. Not that I’m the judgmental type or anything.

But with his contagious smile and youthful enthusiasm, Metheny is impossible to dislike. He comes across as a gracious, humble musician who pays effusive tribute to his excellent band and Yoshi's superb new venue.

Just when many jazz clubs are closing down, Yoshi’s has opened a mindblowing space in San Francisco’s Fillmore district, just around the corner from the legendary Fillmore Theater. What may now be the finest jazz club in the US features an excellent Japanese restaurant, stylish bars and a state of the art auditorium featuring the cream of jazz talent. Despite my reservations about tonight’s jazz-lite experience, it was an evening to remember.

Link: Yoshi's

No comments: