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Pat Metheny: Orchestrion in Maryland

The Music Center at Strathmore, Bethesda, Md.; May, 19, 2010

Pat Metheny with Orchestrion
Pat Metheny & Orchestrion
Pat Metheny & Orchestrion

Pat Metheny visited the posh Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., on Wednesday night, playing music from his wildly ambitious robot-band album, Orchestrion. But for a few troubling moments, he seemed to be pulling from Zero Tolerance for Silence, his notorious noise experiment from 1994. It happened as the 55-year-old guitarist transitioned from a familiar sort of solo performance to a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition.

Early on, Metheny built steadily toward the Orchestrion spectacle; a short solo acoustic set began with single-note lines and ended with Metheny performing on his 42-string Pikasso instrument. In between were the sort of memorable melodies, determined strumming and pensive, folkish cadences that make his music so identifiable, heard here in arrangements of songs like “Make Peace” and “The Sound of Water,” both from Metheny’s collaborations with Brad Mehldau. Surrounding the guitarist were objects of foreshadowing: cloth-covered monoliths in back of him, and enormous wooden crates pushed toward the corners of the stage.

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