Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pat Metheny Tap Book of Angels Volume 20 Tzadk 2013

Tap: The Book of Angels Volume 20

A sonic soliloquy into the musical abyss of nothingness.
Brent Black / Not Just Jazz.

Actually this is a duet recording with the amazing drummer and long time Metheny co-conspirator Antonio Sanchez but you feel me. It's melody I miss the most.

Having long said the worst review you can give an artist is none at all, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on arguably the finest modern jazz guitarist alive. Yes...I like Pat Metheny.
There has been a remarkable level of consistency in the Metheny discography with perhaps the last five years or so as the notable exception. From the sonic train wreck that is Orchestrion to the luke warm reception from critics and listeners alike to the Unity Band ( A Grammy winner so what do we know right?), Pat Metheny reaches out with a more experimental approach steeped in theoretical flights of fancy while missing the connectivity that has been so key in propelling Metheny to the top of the modern jazz guitarist food chain.

So who is John Zorn?
Beginning in the early 90's, Zorn composed 500 songs inspired by traditional Jewish music; they came to be known as two volumes of the Masada Book. Over the last eight years, the songs from Book Two have been recorded as volumes of The Book of Angels by an amazingly diverse group of musicians, including the Masada Quintet, Masada String Trio, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Marc Ribot.

The collaboration between Zorn and Metheny receives incredibly high marks from a technical perspective alone. When one examines the presentation then the old adage of taste as a subjective means of critical review comes into play while Metheny seems to be evolving into a Keith Jarrett like musical enigma. Hardcore Metheny fans will initially rave when considering Tap yet an educated guess leaves me wondering about the longevity of such an eclectic work and how it will find a lasting place not only with Metheny fans but does the release work as a potential drawing card for new listeners without an advanced degree in theory or listeners that are not six string aficionados to begin with?

With a follow up to the Unity Band in the works perhaps Metheny and his fans would have been best served if all of Pat Metheny's efforts had been focused on that particular release, at least for now...
I want to like Tap but...It is the laundry list of previous work that will allow me to give it 3 stars but not as an "average" release of improvisational music. Instead we find 3 stars in this context as unique to the Metheny discography and nothing more.

This is not a bad release. This is different and different is not bad, just different. Is there another Grammy waiting in the wings for Metheny? If the uninspired work of the Unity Band can pull of a win then anything is possible.

Track Listing: Mastema; Albim; Tharsis; Sariel; Phanuel; Hurmiz.

Personnel: Antonio Sanchez: drums; Pat Metheny: guitars, sitar, tiples, bass, keyboards, orchestrionics, electronics, bandoneĆ³n, percussion, and flugelhorn.

Editor's note...The All About Jazz review has the Metheny label incorrectly listed as Nonesuch for this release. Tzadik is a subsidiary of Nonesuch acting as it's own separate entity. I realize I am splitting hairs but it is what it is...