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

For many years, I longed for those early Pat Metheny concerts, when “Phase Dance” was always played. OK, I still do, but there have been a few instances where the song has popped up, usually when Pat is playing some solo acoustic material. He plays a fragment of the composition, usually drastically reharmonized. On most nights, there’s a noted murmur from the audience (I bet a lot of them are longing for those early shows too!).

With the opening descending chord sequence, I’ve always thought that “Hermitage” was the blues track on New Chautauqua. It’s not a conventional blues, at least not as we think of it in a jazz context. But the mood is decidedly dark, with several resolutions that seem to leave questions unanswered.

So when I went looking for a video of the song, I stumbled onto a live version from 1980 that illustrates Metheny’s capacity for transformation of his own works. In the live setting, Lyle Mayes and Mark Egan provide most of the harmonic bed as Pat plays his own early version of the blues.

Up next: Sueño con México



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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.