There is an inherent risk with a solo jazz guitar concert that rather than experiencing a tour of a verdant garden, with life flowing in all directions, an audience might be subjected to a monoculture. Proceedings can get very same-y, awfully quickly. Which is perhaps why Pat Metheny had put off doing for so long what he is now doing, and did admirably on May 23 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, a sea-jewel of a concert venue tucked on a ridge above the Atlantic in Rockport, on Massachusetts’ Cape Ann. As the Impressions sang, people get ready, and maybe it took Metheny the bulk of his career to prepare for a night like this.
The bulk of the show is played on acoustic guitar, Metheny starting with a doozy of a number knit together from pieces of an expansive back catalog. Even the diehards recognized the folly of playing spot-the-tune; old chordal patterns registered in re-engineered forms—fresh guitar flora and fauna dancing, shimmying, shimmering, and probing a backdrop of new sonic space.