(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny Group, “The Search” (1979)

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Pat Metheny likes to say that the group has a hard time with song titles. They may be hashing out a new composition and the working title will be something like “New thing in E-flat” — with the final title attached later, after much deliberation.

It’s not that I don’t believe him — because I have in fact seen him play a new, unrecorded song and say it had no title — but that just can’t apply to all of his songs. To my ears, “The Search” is a perfect description of how the composition unfolds. Pat begins with a blossoming series of descending arpeggios, with Lyle coming in on piano shortly thereafter. When Lyle begins to weave in that melody with the Oberheim, everything falls into place. I’ve used the phrase “searching melody” many times and this just might be the ultimate example.

There are several side-routes taken here, the first with Mays taking a piano solo accompanied by Gottlieb’s snare work with occasional comments from Egan’s bass. The solo, a thing of delicate but intense beauty, builds and builds before Pat slips back in to take things higher. After a modified restatement of the original arpeggio series, Lyle comes back in with the Oberheim to take one last excursion.

It makes me wonder if they had a hard time naming this one.

Up next: American Garage

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