PAT METHENY: ‘Day Trip’ (Label: Nonesuch)

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The fact that he scored a UK Top 20 pop hit in an unlikely collaboration with rock icon David Bowie on ‘This Is America’ and yet could convincingly push the free jazz envelope with iconoclastic saxophonist Ornette Coleman via ‘Song X’ cemented Pat Metheny’s reputation early on as a musical chameleon with a predilection for risk-taking. Thus in a long career characterised by unusual twists and turns, this session featuring ubiquitous bassist Christian McBride and drummer, Antonio Sanchez, might seem a tad orthodox – mundane even – but the sheer quality of the trio’s musicianship results in a veritable feast for the ear. Compared with the panoramic vistas of the recently reissued ‘Secret Story,’ ‘Day Trip’s’ pastel-hued chamber jazz offers a more intimate, contemplative ambience. This is epitomised by the plaintive simplicity of the Hurricane Katrina-inspired song, ‘Is This America?’ Other highlights include ‘At Last You’re Here’ with its sweet sense of bucolic lyricism and the propulsive ‘Let’s Move,’ which is driven by a frenetic flurry of fretboard notes from Metheny. An excellent set from the jazz guitar doyen.
(CW) 4/5