(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “New Chautauqua” (1979)

Released in 1979, New Chautauqua is by far my favorite Pat Metheny solo record. OK, sure…there haven’t been that many Metheny solo records. You’ve got me there. And while I was as excited as the next fan when One Quiet Night came out, I was not expecting it to surpass New Chautauqua, because that’s just not possible.

Yes, I know that it’s not in my nature to pit one album against the next, but I’ve listened to this record for so many years that its seeming infinite layers of nuance pretty much define Metheny in a solo context. And on this title track, we have Pat’s acoustic strumming and arpeggios over which his Gibson electric is overdubbed playing straight jazz (ish) lines and chiming harmonics. Like many of Metheny’s compositions that rise into my hall of favorites, it feels like I hear something new on every listen. Is that possible after all of these years. Yes, I think so.

I started off thinking that As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls was to be next in this feature, but a Pat Metheny Group (vs. Pat Metheny) discography lead me astray. Interesting, since the order of Pat Metheny Group/Offramp/Wichita felt more natural to me. That might have been my original order of purchase, though I can’t say for sure. I do know that by the time I saw that show on the First Circle tour, I went out and bought up everything I could get my hands on.

Up next: Country Poem

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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.