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

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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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 writes several 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.
  • Dan

    Although I consider myself a hardcore fan, I long ago gave up the idea that I would ever remember many of the song names. I make up for it by knowing every note!

    Thanks for this series. I’ve really appreciated the video links you’ve provided, I probably would not have seen them otherwise. And just thanks for doing this in general, it was an unexpected find.

  • http://somethingelsereviews.com Mark Saleski

    thanks for the kind words dan, glad you’re enjoying it. it’s fun especially to revisit the older material, though i say that like it’s a long time between listenings for me…not true at all!