(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “The Bat” (1980)

A fairly traditional jazz ballad, “The Bat” tells its tale in a slightly unconventional way.

Instead of the usual sequence of head/solos/head, we have the theme presented in sax/guitar unison, to be followed by a long guitar solo, a bass passage, and finally a sax/guitar reprise.

What elevates this composition is the presence of Jack DeJohnette. Pat’s guitar solo is incredibly expressive, but wouldn’t be the same without Jack’s highly emotive cymbal work. This applies equally to Charlie’s segment. People can crack wise about bass solos, but Mr. Haden’s talent for simple beauty is unmatched.

With DeJohnette’s sensitive accents, this isn’t just a solo: it’s a story within a story.

Up next: Turnaround

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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.

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