(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Offramp” (1981)

Pat’s connection to Ornette Coleman is well-known, although sometimes folks have a hard time believing and/or accepting it. When a Metheny composition comes around that has clear Ornette influences — and “Offramp” is just dripping with them — some fans seem to think that Pat is just joking around, that he couldn’t possibly like “all of this noise.” Reactions like that come most often when the group plays something really “out” at a show, which I’ve always thought was kind of funny since this has always been a part of the Metheny Group sound.

By the time Pat was touring on First Circle (my first tour), he was bringing the noise not with “Offramp” but with a tune that was left off of the album. I’m not sure if “Scrap Metal” was his official title for it, but that’s the name used on the bootlegs. In any event, it sure was a head-scratcher for some people. I loved it. It was the essence of Ornette Coleman transferred to the guitar synth.

I stumbled onto a beautiful live version of “Offramp” that features Pat really taking off with the guitar and also has an expanded percussion break that surrounds Steve Rodby’s terrific bass solo. Great stuff.

Next up: James

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 originated several of our 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.