(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Lone Jack” (1978)

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Despite my musing last week that maybe April Joy is a more appropriate closer for this album, there’s no denying the fact that “Lone Jack” finishes things off on a note of bursting energy. This is a terrific example (with so many to come) of the group’s use of both volume and tempo dynamics.

No foolin’ around here as Pat drops two quick notes and then the group is immediately running at full speed. The changes fly by and so does the melody via Pat’s guitar. Each chorus is quite short, adding to the intense feeling of forward motion. Before we know it, the bridge arrives with it’s generally ascending direction built on a series on angular chords. Metheny then takes off on a solo that comes very close to become unhinged while still retaining high levels of melodicism.

After an even more crazed bridge comes Lyle’s piano solo, where time seems to be elastic. The air becomes quiet and the tempo drops back. That is, until Mays begins to unleash his ideas. By the time Pat comes back in, the energy level of the group has been pushed to an even higher level.

If you’re never seen the Pat Metheny Group live, this sort of development is very common. In some ways, these are rock moves as applied to a jazz/improvisational context.

I’ve again included two videos. The first is from 1977 and shows what seems like an undeveloped version of the song. It’s more of a jam session, with some parts of the final arrangement not yet in place. The second is from the Pat Metheny Trio, burning the freaking house down.

Up next: The song that started it all for me: (Cross the) Heartland

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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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