What happened to my PMG?

patmethenyunitygroup_kinEver since the early 90’s when I first heard a live recording of the classic “First Circle” I’ve eagerly awaited every new Pat Metheny Group release. In 1995 while at Northwestern I was fortunate to study with PMG’s drummer Paul Wertico about the same time “We Live Here” was born. With “Imaginary Day” (1997) the group expanded their tune length and included some harder almost heavy metal elements to their style. In 2002 we saw the debut of Antonio Sanchez who replaced long time drummer Wertico (a move that frankly was a tough one for me). Then, in 2005, with “The Way Up”, it all changed for me. It blew away everything that came before it. One full album, with only 4 continuous tracks, featuring a heavy minimalistic/Steve Reich influence, that left you changed after listening to it in one sitting. While many saw it as alienating I was completely obsessed with it. Even keyboardist Lyle Mays, who I was fortunate enough to play with at ZMF ’09, spoke to me of his initial uneasiness of the project. Since 2005, we’ve had nothing from PMG.

But since then we’ve had some great collaborations with Mehldau, Grenadier, Sanchez and McBride but no new PMG. In 2010 there was all that “Orchestrion” (see video below) stuff which I wasn’t really sure what to think about. Unity Band (2012) featured Chris Potter on Sax and was, in some ways, a move back toward PMG, but still had mostly a more acoustic be-bop style (although I vaguely remember seeing spare parts of “Orchestrion” spattered to the far reaches of the stage. Surely, I kept thinking that sooner rather than later we’d see the band back together again.

The Unity Band’s newest release entitled “Pat Metheny Unity Group: Kin (< ->)” is all about the multi-instrumentalist. Leading they way is Giuilio Carmassi who reportedly plays 11 instruments. Carmassi brings back the vocal element that many will remember from the decade before. Even Antonio Sanchez leaves the kit a bit for the cajon. Is the PMG dead? Maybe, but Kin (< ->) is the closest thing yet to a return, not in personnel, but in structure. Back are the long structures, the huge builds of energy releasing in ecstatic arrivals. It seems to me that while we have some shout outs to earlier PMG stylings, this release is about combining the key elements of acoustic be-bop style, with the best of PMG, and even more Orchestrion sounds. A melting pot of sorts.

No matter what your preference you have to admire an artist who seems to never duplicate, clearly following his own muse. Watch the curated related videos below, check out the recording and leave your thoughts below the post.



Goals for 2014

I’ve never been a big “new years resolution” kind of guy but this year feels a bit different. For all kinds of reasons I’ve been looking forward to 2014. A chance to change things up, and an opportunity to set a few goals. Aside from the obvious ones (exercise, practice more) I’ve decided to read more, and try and discover some new music (hopefully out of my comfort zone).

I’ll be writing more about what I’m reading (I’ve already got some good books on my Nexus 7) but today I wanted to share a new band that I’ve been listening to.


Drummer Matt Garstka recently began playing with the American instrumental progressive metal band “Animals as Leaders”. And, preconceptions aside, I encourage you to check the band out. Fortunately, I got in early on the Google Music $7.99 all access subscription and I encourage you to do the same. It’s an amazing way to prepare for symphony concerts and, discover new music. While the style of the band is progressive, it’s totally instrumental and shows clear minimilistic, jazz, and electronic influences. Check out Matt’s playing in the video above and I encourage to check an actual track from one of their two recordings.

What are your 2014 “goals”? Leave them below the post.

Will Kennedy breaks down When the Lady Dances

I’ve written before about Yellowjacket great Will Kennedy. Click the link to the left to purchase and learn more about their new album “A Rise in the Road”. In the video below Will Walks us through the shuffle groove he employs in the track “When the Lady Dances”. It’s worth watching all the way through to hear Kennedy talk about the “Vamp Out”. What do you enjoy about Will’s playing? Leave your thoughts below the video.


Marco Minnemann – The Aristocrats

Happy labor day weekend. All of us at drumchattr hope you can take some time this weekend and enjoy some down time. And, if you’ve come to catch up we thought you would enjoy this unique drum solo by Marco Minnemann. It’s a long video but it’s worth the watch! What do you find refreshing about Marco’s drumming? Leave your thoughts below the post.


Is “Isolated Tracks” a Thing?

I recently stumbled across an “isolated drum track” of Ringo playing the great Beatles hit come together. And, after just a little investigation I learned that these tracks were made available partly due to their inclusion in Rock Band.

When listening I was amazed at the specific detail in which it was possible to hear nuance. If you want to hear Ringo’s famed “swung” tom fills check out the link below.

Come Together Isolated Drum Track

Recently I watched part of the Rush documentary on Netflix entitled Classic Albums: Rush 2112 and Moving Pictures. Much of the documentary features a discussion about individual tracks. The engineer at the sound board “isolated” tracks to showcase individual playing qualities of Lee, Lifeson, and Peart. How great would it be to be able to hear the isolated drum drack to YYZ?

Perhaps that isn’t enough evidence but I was struck at how great it would be if we could hear inidividual tracks for our favorite bands. Would you like to have that ability? Is this something that anyone would like? Which favorite tracks of yours would you like to hear isolated? Leave your thoughts below.

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