copyright © 2002 Alain Derbez
Years ago, that was in 1987, I published a book in Spanish called Hasta donde nos de el tiempo (Sep/Crea eds). The last two chapters dealed with a young musician then (Christ's age), who was changing the concept and the audience of and for jazz in the world (some people even wanted him not to use that word to define his music; he just didn't worry about that kind of definition).
One of the chapters (published originally as an article in a Mexican newspaper) was called "Por si Pat Metheny viene a Mexico" ("If Pat Metheny comes to Mexico"), the other one "Fuera de la rampa" (Offramp, as the name of the sixth Metheny's ECM long play record Igot). In the first chapter (originally written in '86), I talked about the announcement made then by the organizers that Metheny would be playing for the first time in Mexico City in the National Auditorium that October. Those were the days in which Song X (the Metheny-Ornette Coleman collaboration) was released by Geffen and distributed in my country, so, if this was possible, maybe, I thought with hope, the offer would be true: the Lee's Summit musician who switched from trumpet to guitar as a youngster thanks to the dentist, would be playing here. The only condition, the organizers explained, was first to have some success with a Chick Corea Elektric Band concert they were dealing with now, and the next step would be Metheny.
It didn't happen. As I mentioned in the post-scriptum found on page 181 of the sold-out book: Pat Metheny didn't appear. The very bad promotion made for Corea's concert didd't allow the organizers their following move.
I think about all this in another Mexico City's autumm 12 years later. The date is November 27, 2002, the guitar player is almost 50 years old, and I'm in the Metropolitan Theatre, the same place in which I listened last year to Michael Brecker's concert. The hour is 11:30 p.m.
More than a decade after the original possibility, Pat Metheny, young as usual, is finally here, as a reality just in front of me in a packed hall. I learned about the potential of this concert last summer when I interviewed drummer Antonio Sanchez, the Mexican member of Metheny's Group, for my radio program; I reconfirmed the information in a quick talk with PMG trumpeter Cuong Vu last September in the Canadian Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium. Yes, they said on both ocassions, it is scheduled: the last Pat Metheny´s Speaking of now world tour concert will be in Mexico City.
Yes, this is the last concert with this group this year. Pat knows this fact and knows that a lot of the guys in the audience are happy he's having a Mexican musician playing here with him, so he starts the rich and long evening with a drums-guitar duet. The river starts flowing with generosity and it will not stop for the next three hours. Nobody will leave the house in the meantime: Metheny with Mays, Vu, bassist Steve Rodby, vocalist Richard Bona and Sanchez will carry the audience not only to the recent Speaking of Now stations, but to samples of his well-known work, his history, starting with Bright Size Life in 1976. If you haven't been able to listen to all his career alive and well, let us trick time and get even.
Metheny could have said operating with his relaxed associates is a balance of desire and satisfaction for audience and musicians. Some climatic peeks like the interpretation of "Are you going with me" (from Off Ramp) provoked tears here and there. "If you're in love with somebody," said someone in the audience, "listening to this takes you to reconfirm it and makes you want to love more."
Was that an exaggeration? No, thought listeners hearing Jobim's "Insensatez" played by the trio Metheny, Rodby and Sanchez, joined in the final bars by Mays' piano . . . No, thought listeners of Bona's voice and kalimba duplicated, overdubbed, in a great marriage of technology and wizardry . . . No, thought the ones who were astonished by his dexterity playing bass and by Cuong Vu's trumpet making the ones who have listened to his "Come play with me" c.d. wish for more of his sound, more of his solos . . . No, thought all the grateful audience proud of Antonio Sanchez achievements in the past and the present and . . . No, thought everybody who witnessed the comfortable and lucid reunion onstage of these six comrades. If a concert is great the person who entered the hall will never be the person who gets out of it: he or she will feel like a better human being -- that's the power of music. Metheny, his old creative allies Rodby and Mays, his new partners Sanchez, Vu and Bona all know that, feel that, and make us feel that with hedonistic mastery.
Our watches are pulling our legs, thought the people three hours later: No time passed. How come it is almost midnight? Thankfully, Pat Metheny, the promised Pat Metheny of 15 years ago, the wizard who cheats Kronos in several ways, was for real. Better people were going back home.
Alain Derbez is a poet, saxophonist, jazz historian and radio broadcaster who lives in Vera Cruz and works from there as well as Mexico City.
C o m m e n t s
The power of words 1 of 2 Marcela Campos December 29, 02
¨better human being...wizard master... the power of music¨, sentences that defined the spirit of Metheny´s art. It was great to remember that old Bright size life, in the earlies 80´s. It is grate to be guided to the Metheny territory the way Derbez does. I missed that concert in Mexico City but that never happened again, the power of the words in this article makes me remind that kronos doesn´t ignores, that we don´t know if there´s gonna be another chance to listen alive that power of this music that is able to make us fell better human being.