Childhood & Early Life
Pat Metheny was born on August 12, 1954 in Lee's Summit, Missouri into a musical family. His family was into band music and his older brother Mike played the trumpet.
He played his first instrument, the trumpet, at the age of eight and switched to guitar at the age of 12. In 1969, he won a Down Beat scholarship to a one-week jazz camp and met guitarist Attila Zoller.
After passing out from Lee's Summit High School he attended the University of Miami. He stayed at the University for a brief period during which he was also offered a teaching position.
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He became the youngest teacher ever at the University of Miami at the age of 18 and later took up a teaching assistantship with jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton at the Berklee College of Music. At Berklee he gained a reputation for being a teenage prodigy.
His debut album, 'Bright Size Life' (1975) was launched in collaboration with Pastorius and drummer Bob Moses, and his second album 'Watercolours' (1977) featured pianist Lyle Mays, bassist Eberhard Weber and drummer Danny Gottlieb.
He created a jazz fusion group called 'Pat Metheny Group' in 1977, in which he was the guitarist, composer and the bandleader, while Lyle Mays played the roles of keyboardist and composer. The group also had Danny Gottlieb and Mark Egan in its line-up. The group's first album 'Pat Metheny Group' (1978) was released on the ECM label.
The group's second album, 'American Garage' (1979) turned out to be a huge success and the album ranked No. 1 on the Billboard Jazz chart. The opening track ‘(Cross the) Heartland’, was an instant hit and became the band's signature tune.
The group's unique sound was due to Pat's Gibson ES-175 guitar coupled with two Eventide Clockworks' Harmonizer digital delay units, Mays’ Oberheim and Sequential Circuit Prophet 5 synthesizer and Steinway piano.
Later on Pat Metheny left his Gibson guitar and took the Roland GR-300 guitar synthesizer and the Synclavier guitar system made by New England Digital, while Mays worked with a Synclavier keyboard and several other synthesizers.
Their next album 'Offramp' (1982) was their first recording to win a Grammy Award. It featured bassist Steve Rodby and Brazilian guest artist Nana Vasconcelos, who played the percussion and gave wordless vocals.
The group's next releases were the albums ‘Travels’ (1983), ‘First Circle’ (1984) and ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’ (1985). ‘First Circle’ featured new additions in the form of Argentinean multi-instrumentalist Aznar and drummer Paul Wertico.
Their album 'Still Life (Talking)' (1987) combined Brazilian jazz-influenced harmonies with jazz, folk and pop elements. They followed it up with the album 'Letter From Home' (1989).
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The albums 'We Live Here' (1995), 'Quartet' (1996) and 'Imaginary Day' (1997) were referred to by Metheny and Mays as the triptych. In these albums, the Latin music style which dominated their previous releases was discarded for experimentation and improvisation.
Their next album was 'Speaking of Now' (2002) and it featured several younger musicians including drummer Antonio Sanchez, trumpet player Cuong Vu, and bassist-vocalist-guitarist and percussionist Richard Bona.
Their album 'The Way Up' (2005) was a concept-record and consisted of a 68-minute long piece. The album featured a new group-member, Swiss-American harmonica player Gregoire Maret and two guest artists, Bona and Dave Samuels.
In 2012, he formed a quartet named 'Unity Band' with drummer Sanchez, bassist Ben Williams and saxophone-player Chris Potter, and they toured the Europe and the US.
The band became the new 'Pat Metheny Unity Group' in 2013 and had a new member, Italian composer and multi instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. The group went for their first world tour in 2014.
Awards & Achievements
Pat Metheny has won 20 Grammy awards, several of them with the Pat Metheny Group. He won the Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for ‘(Go) Get It’ as a soloist in 2001.
In 1995, he was presented with the Miles Davis Award by the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
He was inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame in November, 2013.