(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Watercolors” (1977)

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A year after his auspicious debut, Pat Metheny returned to the ECM label with a lineup that’s very close to what would become the first incarnation of the Pat Metheny Group. With Danny Gottlieb on drums and Lyle Mays on piano, Watercolors had the great Eberhard Weber on bass; a slot that would end up being filled by Mark Egan on the next album.

In contrast to “Bright Size Life,” “Watercolors” provides the first concrete example of The Group sound, the main harmonic feature being the presentation of a long-form melody. It’s not that Metheny was stepping outside the rules (that would happen later), but his line of thought traced itself through the chord changes while putting nearly complete emphasis on the story being told.

One summer in the mid-1980s, I spent a week on an island off the coast of Maine. Every morning I would get up and pop in my homemade cassette of this album. To this day I associate it’s pensive opening chord sequence with the smell of fresh coffee mingled with the scent of sea air.

Up next: Icefire

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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