Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Mike Metheny's 60.1

I may never forgive Mike Metheny for making my life a living hell.

The opening track of 60.1, his new album, may be the most infuriating earworm I've ever encountered. It's as if the tormented ghost of Raymond Scott had assumed control of the USC Marching Trojans.

The deliberately annoying march has taken up unwelcome residency in my cranium for the past two weeks. Metheny named the piece "Dubious Melody," but "Crime Against Humanity" would be be a more appropriate title.

It takes enormous talent to be so maliciously awful. At this late date, jazz fans could be forgiven for failing to remember that Metheny was once a major label recording artist and had served as a faculty member at Boston's Berklee College of Music. While Metheny has returned to Missouri and jazz's fortunes have waned, Metheny's prodigious musical gifts have not diminished.

The evil "Dubious Melody" aside, Metheny uses his genius for good on 60.1.

Propelled by drummer Brandon Draper, the title track is absolutely savage. It demonstrates that Metheny is still capable of making a righteous racket that can challenge the testosterone levels of even the most manly fans of Medeski Martin & Wood and The Bad Plus.

"60.1" and a couple additional noisy numbers make the album's relatively conventional mainstream tracks seem tame. It would be a shame, however, to overlook Metheny's gorgeous playing on the Bill Evans ballad "Laurie" and the fine Bob Bowman solo on "C.C. & Water." Other Kansas City-based artists on the album include pianists Paul Smith and Roger Wilder and guitarist Danny Embrey.

Metheny demurred when I asked for permission to post a track. All ten selections are different, he suggested, and hearing only one piece would be inherently misleading. There's some truth to that. Even so, the entirety of 60.1 s characterized by Metheny's artistic restlessness, adventurous spirit and stupendous musicality.

Just don't listen to that first track.

Ani DiFranco's concert Friday was kind of a drag. Great pictures accompany my review.

As my review suggests, the Clayton Brothers exceeded my expectations Saturday at the Gem Theater.

The new Terje Rypdal is a prog-meets-big band freak-out. Listen, if you dare, here.

"I just can't sympathize with your rock and roll problems." Stream the new Hold Steady album at NPR. (Tip via S.S.)

Kansas City Click: The Kansas City Bear Fighters and Grisly Hand perform Monday at the Record Bar.


bgo said...

I have no intention of listening to the first track. Or the 2nd. Or the 3rd. MM is a cranky old fart with a bad attitude. But then, I might reconsider. Paul Smith is one of my all time favorite piano players. Paul needs more exposure, always.

bgo said...

Terje's quartet and the Bergen Big Band should be offered opening slot on Jeff Beck's current tour. But then, maybe, just maybe Jeff don't like no stinkin' competition.

patbro said...

bgo, I am indeed an old fart (only three years older than you, I see), but am much less cranky these days now that I've discovered the benefits of added fiber to the diet... along with the occasional Crown Royal chaser. Maybe you should try the same.