Metheny and Granadier expand on all that Jazz

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny has a stylistic range as massive as his trademark hairdo, and at his concert at the Santa Monica Broad Stage on Sept. 25, he and bassist Larry Granadier took the audience on a journey through a roller coaster of musical genres. Their set included numbers that drew influences from bossa nova, contemporary and smooth jazz, bebop, blues, and folk music.

Metheny and Granadier, who formerly played together in a trio with drummer Bill Stewart, formed a perfect musical balancing act.

Metheny’s trilled, upper-range guitar tones were balanced out by Granadier’s especially substantial bass sound.

Metheny’s technique was intriguing. His melodies were unpredictable, but seemed to make complete musical sense.

He also utilized his guitar in unique ways, at some points using it as a percussive instrument, or scraping the strings with his fingers and strumming below the bridge to create unique sonic textures.

On top of their technical prowess, both men seemed to perform with great fervor.

Both Granadier and Metheny have a captivating habit of mouthing their instruments’ sounds along with them.

In the more climactic sections of songs, Granadier slapped his double bass in a frenzied manner while tightly hugging onto it as though it would sprint offstage if he didn’t.

A highlight of the show was Metheny’s performance on his Pikasso guitar. This huge instrument, custom-made for Metheny by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer, totes two necks, two holes, and 42 strings.

On her website, Manzer wrote, “In 1984 Pat Metheny asked me to design and build a guitar with ‘as many strings as possible.’ The resulting collaboration was the Pikasso guitar.”

Watching Metheny play this elaborate, harp-like contraption was like watching someone tame a wild beast. However, there were bigger musical monsters to be unleashed.

For the show’s finale, a black curtain behind Granadier and Metheny was pulled back to reveal an enormous machine called The Orchestrion, which was created for an album of the same name released last year.

Metheny explained on his website that “‘Orchestrionics’ is the term that I am using to describe a method of developing ensemble-oriented music using acoustic and acoustoelectric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled in a variety of ways.”

In other words, it’s a giant, multi-instrumental, interactive music machine.

Each time one of its electronically-controlled instruments would play a note, a light would flash right where it was hit, so the mechanism provided the audience with a stimulating audio-visual experience that left them roaring with applause.

Metheny’s newest album, “What’s It All About,” was released this year by Nonesuch Records.

Click here for future tour dates on his website.