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Matheny, Pat: The Orchestrion Project (DVD)

Back in 2009, acclaimed jazz guitarist Pat Metheny had a unique idea to recreate a large scale musical ensemble based on his love for his grandfather's old 'player piano'. What he wanted to do was create an orchestra with instruments that were all controlled and manipulated by Pat and his guitar, and put together a large scale orchestral work where he and his instruments were the sole participants. After quite a few months working with various people to commision and build what he called 'The Orchestrion' (comprised of various pianos, drums, percussion, marimbas, guitar-bots, and bottles), Metheny released an album of all new material using this new creation, and toured the world performing over 100 concerts with just himself, his guitars, and The Orchestrion. Rather than film one of the many concerts for a DVD/Blu-ray release, Metheny decided to wait until the tour ended and regroup at the St. Elias Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (where he did many of the rehearsal sessions for the tour) in November of 2010, and over a 2 day period had both Pierre & Francois Lamoureuz film him in a large room with The Orchestrion going through all the songs on the album as well as some old favorites.

Sound like a massive undertaking? I'm sure it was, but we should know by now that nothing is impossible for Pat Metheny, who has been dazzling his fans for years with many new sounds and styles, always keeping things fresh and interesting. Basically, The Orchestrion is triggered by Metheny's guitar, programmed to play notes and melodies on each respective instrument based on what Pat is playing on his guitar. Seems complicated for sure, but watching this fascinating film it all looks effortless as Metheny is situated in the middle of a room full of acoustic instruments that are all playing themselves perfectly in time alongside his nimble, liquid guitar lines. The camera work is splendid, at some points utilizing a split screen so you can see multiple instruments all going at one, but with key cuts to each throughout so you can get the full grasp of the technical magnitude of what is really going on. It's a musical form of robotics, all done with absolute precision.

What about the songs you ask? Well, if you are familiar with the music of Pat Metheny, expect some sensational melodies and plenty of jaw dropping guitar work. Despite the intricate nature of setting this all up, he didn't ease up on the complexity of the music either, so be prepared to be impressed from start to finish. There's a second disc that has an interview with Metheny and a documentary, which is key to really understanding all that went into this project and how The Orchestrion works.

The only real downside to this DVD is that after a while, it can get a little tiresome to watch as you are just viewing one guitarist and an array of instuments playing themselves. It's not as eye appealing as you might think once you hit the 30 or 45 minute mark, but once you visually begin to understand what this project is all about, you can take your eyes off the screen and just appreciate the lovely, complex music. It's epic, grandiose jazz in every sense of the word.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. Unity Village
2. Orchestrion
3. Entry Point
4. Expansion
5. Soul Search
6. Spirit of the Air
7. Sueño con Mexíco
8. Improvisation #2
9. Stranger in Town
10. Improvisation #1
11. 80/81
12. Broadway Blues
13. Tell Her You Saw Me
14. Antonia

Disc 2
1. Orchestrion (The Making Of)
2. Improvisation #2 (The Making Of)
3. Improvisation #2 (The Making Of)
4. Entry Point (The Making Of)
5. Entry Point (The Making Of)
6. Entry Point (The Making Of)
7. Improvisation #1 (The Making Of)
8. Expansion (The Making Of)
9. Orchestrion (The Making Of)
10. Orchestrion (EPK)
11. Expansion (EPK)
12. Spirit Of The Air (EPK)

Added: October 16th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Hits: 1844
Language: english

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