Pat Metheny, a 2018 NEA Jazz Master

Pat Metheny

A tribute to the influential guitarist

In 2018, guitarist Pat Metheny (along with Dianne Reeves, Joanne Brackeen and Todd Barken) became one of the NEA Jazz Masters, winning one of the most prestigious American awards.

Metheny certainly deserves it after a 45-year career that includes scores of influential recordings, thousands of concerts, and a great deal of rewarding and innovative music.

Pat Metheny attended the University of Miami where at the age of 18 he became the school’s youngest instructor.

With his friend Jaco Pastorius, Metheny made his recording debut in 1974 with Paul Bley.

He spent the 1974-77 period as a member of the Gary Burton Quartet, recorded his first album as a leader (Bright Size Life) in 1975, met keyboardist Lyle Mays, and with Mays formed the Pat Metheny Group in 1977.

Whether playing uncategorizable folk-oriented jazz with his group, working with all-star bands, collaborating with Ornette Coleman, creating a one-man band with his Orchestrian project, or simply playing solo guitar, Pat Metheny has been a jazz giant for nearly a half-century, and he isn’t done yet.

This film clip is a bit unusual, featuring Metheny on solo guitar in 2011 playing a thoughtful version of a song that he had learned while growing up but never previously recorded, “The Girl From Ipanema.”

-Scott Yanow