Pat Metheny is probably the only artist around that would have one band that he leads open up for the SECOND band that he also is in charge of, but that’s what he did at CSUN’s Performing Arts Center Tuesday night before an appreciative and packed audience.
The first part of the 2 ½ hour set had the guitar icon warm up the audience with some wondrous acoustic guitar treatments before teaming up with his UNITY BAND of Chris Potter/ts-ss-fl, Antonio Sanchez/dr and Ben Williams/b and performing exciting readings of tunes like “Come and See” and “Breakdealer.” Life on the road for two years have made this quartet a symbiotic team of telepaths, as the trapeze act between Potter and Metheny is as exciting as a three ring circus.
Putting away the UNITY BAND, Metheny introduced the UNITY GROUP, which added pianist/vocalist Giulio Carmassi to the stage along with the mechanic stylings of the unique Orchestron. Broad and panoramic pieces from his most recent album such as “One Day One” and “Kin” spotlighted not only Metheny’s maniacally ingenious dexterity and sonic vision, but the passionate and electrifying work on Potter on both soprano and tenor sax. The free form yet in the pocket interplay between Williams and Sanchez during these pieces was like witnessing a controlled avalanche in Mammoth Mountain. Potter even switched to acoustic guitar during the passionately Spanish “Rise Up” that would have made the Gipsy Kings green with envy.
Metheny then went mano a mano with each artist, in a series of duets, with a gorgeous “Insensatez” with Williams, a battlestar galactic fisticuffs with Sanchez and a tightrope walk without a net with Potter on “All The Things You Are” being highlights. By the time the show ended with Metheny alone on stage, just as he’d begun, performing a heartfelt acoustic medley that included “This Is Not America” both the audience and musician seemed like they were just getting started, which is how the guitarist/visionary makes almost every project appear, making every journey together worthwhile.
Upcoming shows at the gorgeous Valley Performing Arts Center include Wynton Marsalis w/ JALC Orchestra March 16, Doc Severinson w/ Mary Wilson March 28, and Diana Krall April 4