(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “April Joy” (1978)

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For the first half of this track, the Pat Metheny group blurs the line between composition and improvisation, a trait I admire in any jazz group. The signature guitar figures in the early section always give me the feeling that Pat is gearing up to punctuate the chord pairs that follow. It’s a tension/release kind of presentation that Metheny has always used to great effect — and here I’m thinking of the chords that are “launched” in a similar manner during Phase Dance…a terse little melody and then boom with the chordal exclamation point.

There’s a long bridge section that follows with Pat musing on some beautifully spacious arpeggios while Lyle draws out a lone synth line. This then goes into a passage that runs to the conclusion, and that can be described as “Phase Dance Revisited.” Part of me thinks this would have worked as an album closer, drawing together the album themes in a way that “Lone Jack” does not. On the other hand, why mess with perfection?

And yes, there’s the spinning vinyl again, with “April Joy” kicking off just before the three minute mark. I’ve also added a live version from Berlin, with Pat engaging in extreme “guitar face.”

Up next: Lone Jack




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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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