(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Sueño con México” (1979)

As an example of extraordinary beauty emanating from simplicity, it’s hard to top “Sueño con México.” In my mind, it nestles quietly alongside pieces such as Miles’ “So What” and Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” For lovers of “real” jazz this might seem like heresy, placing someone from Metheny’s generation right up there with the greats. But I’ll stand by the assertion.

As far as layering goes, “Sueño con México” is probably the most fully-realized composition on New Chautauqua. Pat begins with a shifting ostinato on acoustic guitar and builds from there: first artificial harmonics and then the melody. Later on bass is added as well as a second layer of guitar. It’s the sonic equivalent of watching time lapse video of a flower blooming.

I’ve had people admit that they dismissed Metheny early on because he was on the ECM label, marking him as a dreamy, “new age” player. Had they heard this song? I kind of doubt it.

Again, I’ve embedded two videos, mostly because what Metheny did with his Orchestrion was truly astounding.

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.