Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pat Metheny, you're no Bob Geldoff...

Or so the Globe and Mail says. Maybe it's the other way around...

Special to The Globe and Mail

Pat Metheny is not a celebrity. So what are all these TV cameras, photographers and reporters doing, crowded into a small salon at the official hotel of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal? Well, when the festival beckons in this city, the media respond. And there really is a story here: The always personable and currently well-tanned Missouri-born guitarist will have performed at least six times before the festival is over tomorrow, his schedule concluding on the final night with an outdoor show by the Pat Metheny Group at the corner of St-Catherine and Jeanne-Mance.

Actually, there's even more of a story here, if only the media knew or, perhaps, cared. Metheny at 50 is a political animal -- "the most political person I know," said his friend, bassist Charlie Haden, no political slouch himself, in an interview at this same festival last year.

Metheny has a troubled view of the world, one that forms the rationale for his latest CD, The Way Up, whose single, 68-minute title composition was "a reaction," as he put it in an interview with JazzTimes earlier this year, "to a world where things are getting shorter, dumber, less interesting, less detailed, more predictable." And no, he's not a big fan of the Republicans either.

The media, however, seem to prefer fishing for compliments about the festival and about Montreal more generally. Metheny is obliging, and quite sincerely so, noting in his opening remarks, "I've said many times, and I really believe it, [this] is the best festival in the world." To which André Ménard, the festival's artistic director gloating to the guitarist's left, can't help but chime in, "You were the first [musician] to say that we have the best jazz festival in the world. You did not change your mind. Cool." But Metheny allows himself to be led only where he's willing to go. When asked about "music of the francophone world and what you feel about it," presumably in search of a similar endorsement, he takes a different tack.

"You know," he responds, "I don't really think about 'francophone' or 'jazz' or 'rock' or 'classical.' To me, music is one big thing. When I hear something I love, I love it, and I don't really care much about nationality or style or genre. To me, music is something that is very instructive at showing how really kind of meaningless those terms often are. It cuts right to the humanity of it."

Read the complete article online...


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