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The Friday Morning Listen: Pat Metheny – New Chautauqua

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For a long time, the end of each year would bring with it vague feelings of depression. I never really understood the party atmosphere of the holiday. Well, maybe when I was a lot younger, but it's been a while. For the past decade or so, some of those thoughts came from the very real concern that this year could be the last one for either of my parents. Well, now that they're gone, those particular worries have vanished. I do have to say that as much as I miss my folks, I do not miss those continual worries.

So you would think that as the clock rolled past midnight I would have been jumping for joy. It wasn't quite like that though it was different than in the past. This is the second year in a row that I have said "Good riddance!!" to the passing year. I don't feel bad about it because, honestly, the events that came to pass were almost beyond imagining.

But there's this one little glimmer that I've been carrying for a while now. Strangely enough, it came out of that car accident. The outcome could have been much, much worse. We still feel incredibly lucky to be here and to have each other. My operation(s) and recuperation are (mostly) behind us, and there's a sense that it's time to take the foundations of our wonderful shared past and make something of it for the future. I felt this during our nice mini-vacation/10th anniversary celebration. It's even more powerful in the new year. Vague feelings of dread have been replaced by, uhm…vague feelings of hope.

I'll take it.

And look, there's immediately something to look forward to: on January 26th, Pat Metheny will be releasing a solo record called Orchestrion. This is a modern rendering of an old concept. Popular toward the end of the 1800s, orchestrions were music machines that could be thought of as extensions of the player piano, with extra melodic and percussive sounds. Employing a team of engineers, Metheny has leveraged pneumatics and solonoid switches, enabling him to remotely operate a wide range on instruments. From the press release:

Metheny’s concept includes a large ensemble of acoustic instruments — including several pianos, drum kit, marimbas, "guitar-bots," dozens of percussion instruments and even cabinets of carefully tuned bottles.

This takes Metheny's normal use of laying (going all the way back to the acoustic, but multi-part New Chautauqua) to new places. The results are quite interesting. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he pulls this off in a live setting.

Much like I'm looking forward to the rest of the new year.

Happy New Year everybody!

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About Mark Saleski

  • He’s taking this Orchestrion robot-band thing on the road? That would be something to see. Oh, of COURSE he’s not coming to Phoenix. Damn.

  • yep! should be quite a sight.