Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: Nonesuch
Genre(s): Jazz, Modern Creative, Modern Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
This successor to the Grammy-winning Kin – styled as Kin (??) – was recorded last year while the Metheny group, with prodigious saxophonist Chris Potter, was still hot from a 150-gig tour. The Unity Band lets Metheny develop new music and revisit old favourites, so an exquisite solo-guitar medley of his famous themes features alongside reworkings of the Kin (??) tracklist, covers of the classic jazz vehicle Cherokee, and a jubilantly hooting account of Ornette Coleman’s Police People. Roofdogs, with Metheny and Potter wailing like sirens and Antonio Sanchez’s cymbal chime and lashing offbeats driving them on, is more urgently thrilling than it was on Kin (??), and there’s a generally exhilarating sense of freedom here, notably in improv exchanges between the players and with Metheny’s one-man-band Orchestrion machine, that testifies to how attuned constant gigging has made them.
Once you’ve heard Pat Metheny you will always recognise him, no matter what company he’s in or what instrument he’s playing, be it a simple acoustic guitar or some unlikely invention of his own. Beneath it all there’s a frank, open-hearted tunefulness that keeps the music airborne. This double album, recorded at the end of a year-long tour by his Unity Band, is as polished and sophisticated as any, but moments such as the opening melody of This Belongs to You or the gradual unfolding of Born are just plain elegant.
In 2012, guitarist Pat Metheny won a Grammy for his album Unity Band. That album featured his then newly formed group featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Antonio Sanchez. A year later, the Unity Group returned with Kin , which found Metheny expanding the ensemble to include multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. Arriving in 2016, The Unity Sessions showcases that expanded version of the Unity Group live in a gorgeously produced one-off performance at New York's Black Box Theatre on the heels of their 2014 tour.