Review: Pat Metheny Heineken JazzFest

Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest 2008: The Pat Metheny TrioBefore it slips away into the dusty confines of faded memory, I wanted to share with you my experience last weekend. I have a brother-in-law who is a big Pat Metheny fan, so after blogging about the JazzFest, I called him up to let him know about the show. He already knew about it and we both lamented at how expensive the tickets were and being flat broke. Oh well we thought.

The next week he calls me and tells me one of his long time friends had invited us to the concert and had bought us both tickets. Sweet. So on Saturday night we headed over to the Tito Puente Amphitheater to see Pat Metheny. As I mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of Jazz, but I am a fanatic for excellent guitar playing, and I've appreciated Pat Metheny since I saw him back in 1984, for $6.00.

The Pat Metheny Trio

After witnessing three masterful performances by the members of Rush back in April, I was not expecting something that would beat that show. I'm not going to say I was wrong, because it is awkward to even compare the two shows, but I was totally blown away by the Path Metheny Trio, which consisted of Metheny, Christian McBride on the bass and Antonio Sánchez on the drums.

Pat Metheny's Pikasso ITo begin the show, Metheny played three songs solo. The first of which he used a baritone guitar, in which, according to my friends he did some crazy stuff, that escaped my poor eyes. In the third song he used an instrument that I have never seen before. It is a 42 string guitar with four necks, It is called a Pikasso I, and it is a custom-made instrument created by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer. The crazy thing about this guitar is that Metheny plays multiple necks at the same time as well as the autoharp located on the bottom lower left of the instrument. Totally amazing, is all I can say. If you'd like to learn more about this instrument, the creator has a nice page explaining how he built it.

After those first three songs, then the rest of the trio joined him on stage and together, including the first three songs, they played for nearly two hours, including one encore. Throughout the rest of the concert, each of the musicians supported each other while playing together as well as sat back in amazement with the rest of the audience during frequent solos by the other trio members. To end the show, the trio played a rock jazz fusion jam that was simply incredible.

Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest 2008: Pat MethenyIt almost goes without saying, but obviously Pat Metheny was awesome. He is most definitely one of the best musicians to ever play the guitar. His speed, clarity, and finesse is apparent in every note he plays. Interestingly enough, while most everyone in the audience was in awe of Metheny, he confessed that it was his honor to be playing with Sánchez and McBride, who according to Metheny, currently represent the best Jazz musicians in their respective instruments; which is a lot coming from a 17-time Grammy winner.

Antonio Sanchez, is no Neil Peart, but that's an unfair comparison. His passion, rhythm, and ability to convey emotion in his music is amazing. While his solo's where not overwhelming, they were smooth and expressive as I guess a good jazz drummer should be. There is definitely one thing you can say about Sánchez, with him, you definitely don't need more cowbell. He uses a cowbell attached to a foot pedal that he occasionally uses with expertise.

However, for me, the great surprise and delight of the concert was witnessing Christian McBride. Man can this dude play bass. I've seen three of the best bass rock bass guitarists to ever pick up the instrument (Lee, Entwhistle, and Squire), but this guy may be better than all of them. The speed, agility, and clearness he plays with are simply unbelievable. I was giving McBride a standing ovation at the conclusion of each of his solos.

Tito Puente Amphitheater

Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest 2008: The Pat Metheny Trio LiveThis was my first time attending a concert at the amphitheater. I've always enjoyed seeing a good show outside, so I was expecting a good time. While we were waiting in line to get in I was wondering why so many people were carrying chairs. I knew from the aerial satellite photos that the amphitheater was made of cement, but I didn't put the two together until we got inside. Now I know why. Let me tell you, sitting on the concrete for nearly three hours starts to get pretty old.

It's kind of awkward the system they have to buy beer and snacks. You first have to buy these packets of Heineken dollars and then you use those to pay for what you want. The problem is that they only had two places to buy the darn funny money, but about 20 places to spend them. So the line to actually get a beer was short, but the line to buy your Heine-dollars was like a large male goat.

One other stupid thing was the policy for cameras and taking photographs. While it was not prohibited to bring cameras, it was prohibited to use them. While I do remember them making an announcement for the photojournalists when they could take pictures, I didn't think it applied to the audience. After about five or so songs, if you tried to take a picture, the camera nazis would come over and ask you to put away the camera. I could understand that policy if you were using a flash, but I wasn't so I didn't real see the harm. Anyway, before they got really aggressive, I did happen to snap a few nice ones, so I hope you enjoy them. I'm still traumatized by their harassment, sniff, sniff.

Conclusion

In a way that was so completely different than the Rush show, the Pat Metheny Trio was an exceptional concert. For me, there is nothing better than seeing artists expressing their passion for music while having fun at the same time. So if there is a similarity between the two shows it is that all six of these musicians are masters on their instruments, display deep passion while performing, and are incredibly humble in their understanding of how much the fans appreciate their perfromance.