Pat Metheny: The Orchestrion Project

In case you slept through 2010, let’s recap: Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion was a one-band-man project for the ages, wherein the guitarist fronted a large ensemble’s worth of instruments played using an elaborate system of robotics. It was the sort of mad scientist’s undertaking that demanded visual documentation-hence Pierre and François Lamoureux’s The Orchestrion Project, a double-disc DVD set or 3D Blu-ray that is undoubtedly spinning in a home theater store near you. The biggest surprise here is that this isn’t a traditional concert flick; instead, Metheny performs his Orchestrion tour repertoire on the heels of that trek, in a Brooklyn church disguised as a soundstage. While the filmmakers could’ve easily gone effects-crazy or spent too much time homing in on the technology, they strike a deft balance between the central performer and the pumping, twitching solenoids and pneumatics. The bonus features aren’t a great incentive, and the machines still can’t swing like Antonio Sanchez, but as far as being a pristine representation of a major jazz event, The Orchestrion Project is an essential keepsake.

Evan Haga

Evan Haga worked as an editor and writer at JazzTimes from 2006 to 2018. He is currently the Jazz Curator at TIDAL, and his writing has appeared at RollingStone.com, NPR MusicBillboard and other outlets.