Pat Metheny has been one of my favorite musicians since I was a kid. Yeah, I've heard him ridiculed by some jazz snobs as too pretty or lightweight. But they need to get a life. He's a visionary who has cultivated a sonic universe that's coherent yet infinite. His guitar timbres are pure silver and gold, and he was a pioneer in integrating synthesizers into jazz in a way that sounded organic and inviting.
One doesn't expect mature musicians (he's been famous now for 30 years) to try the kinds of wild new things that make your eyes and ears pop, but yes, he has. Metheny's new project Orchestrion places his familiar guitar inside a large orchestra of robotic instruments that have been sequenced by Metheny himself into a crazy one-man-band with piano, extensive percussion, marimbas and more. It resembles the pre-digital computing machines dreamed up by steam-punk novelists. In the video below, Pat describes how his fascination as a kid with a grandparent's player piano led him toward this extraordinary concept. Not only does the music sound good, it seems like a fantastic invitation into new ways of appreciating composed music and improvised jazz. Folks, show this to your kids and see if you get a reaction.