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Pat Metheny Goes Solo on 'What’s It All About'

Pat Metheny (file)
Pat Metheny (file)

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Doug Levine

Acclaimed guitarist Pat Metheny returns to playing solo acoustic guitar on a new album of pop standards called “What’s It All About.”  

It’s not every day that you hear a remake of The Stylistics’ “Betcha By Golly, Wow” played on a baritone guitar.  And, while Pat Metheny’s rendition retains a touch of the song’s original soul flavor, there are elements of his signature blend of jazz, folk and new age.

While Pat introduced the baritone guitar eight years ago on his Grammy-winning album “One Quiet Night,” this is the first time he has recorded an entire collection of songs by composers other than himself.  The idea to make an album of hit songs from his past sprang from what he describes as “an exploration into unknown territory.”

Besides having an emotional attachment to the lyrics, Pat was deeply inspired by the melodies.  He says, “My focus is really on the actual notes and harmonies that make these pieces interesting to me as a musician.”

“Cherish” was a Number One hit for The Association in 1966, the year Pat Metheny began playing guitar.  By age 15, he was already making a name for himself as a professional guitarist on the Kansas City jazz scene.  His recording career spans more than three decades. During that time, he has earned a total of 18 Grammy Awards, both as a soloist and with the Pat Metheny Group.

The title of his latest album “What’s It All About” comes from the opening line in the Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune “Alfie.”  Pat also interprets songs by Henry Mancini, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Paul Williams, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.  He plays a nylon string guitar on the John Lennon and Paul McCartney ballad, “And I Love Her.”

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