Well, this is a day that I thought I'd never see. A few years ago I had the great fortune of sitting down with Pat Metheny one on one for about 45 minutes to talk about his (then) latest release, The Way Up amongst a number of other things. For me, it was an absolutely fascinating interview as Pat is one of my musical heroes and to me, a musical genius in his genre. We talked in depth about The Way Up, Antonio Sanchez (who I personally feel is the best drummer playing today, bar none), composition, conveying his musical visions, high resolution audio and also during the interview, I was actually able to slide in a question about issuing his new (and old) releases on vinyl. To quote Pat from that 2005 interview:
SF – "Right now vinyl is having a huge resurgence. Way more than the RIAA reports. Currently there are more choices in turntables than there are CD players. Have you given any thought to allowing any of your new releases to be produced on vinyl?"
Pat Metheny – "No….. (long pause)… I think that the market for our particular thing would be in the lower three digits in terms of the amount of people that would buy it and that just not enough to justify it."
It's interesting to see how time, publicity and popularity govern marketing. This is one case where I am eternally grateful that the younger generations have chosen to "go retro". With the resurgence of LPs and the kids now clamoring for all things vinyl, us old vinylphiles now get to reap the benefits of its new found popularity. Vinyl's popularity has gotten to the point that we are now seeing it sold in our neighborhood Best Buy, a sight I never thought I'd witness in this lifetime.
So, onto the Trio. Pat Metheny always seems surrounds himself with the best musicians when he undertakes a new project. Such is the case with Day Trip/Tokyo Day Trip Live. Accompanying Pat once again for this project is Antonio Sanchez on drums and Christian McBride on bass. Antonio has been a fixture with Pat since the 2002 release of Speaking of Now. In recent years Pat has chosen to tour and record with Christian McBride. Christian is certainly one of the best in today's generation of Jazz bassists. Christian normally fronts his own trio or quartet but has apparently found performing with Pat to be very musically satisfying.
On Day Trip/Tokyo Day Trip Live, you Metheny fans will find some new variations of old themes plus a number of new compositions. The tempo and approach to the music is wildly varied. On this three disc release you will find everything from the highly melodical Pat to the progressive, on the cutting edge of Jazz Pat. There is a little something for everyone.
Though the in depth liner notes we have all become accustomed to on vinyl releases are sparse, the cover art more than makes up. This album is a three disc release of 180 gram vinyl stored in paper backed rice paper sleeves. It also comes with the accompanying full length CD's tucked inside as a bonus. Rather than a typical gatefold with an extra fold for the third LP, this album cover is a double gatefold. Imagine a gatefold inside of a gatefold and you'll understand what I mean. Each of the gates has some wonderful impressionistic artwork well worthy of displaying in your music room as many of us do.
This release on vinyl is quite good but falls just short of stunning, sonically speaking. I find the highs just a bit recessed when I compare it to the CD and other premium audiophile releases. When compared to so many other current releases on vinyl direct from the Record Labels, this one is stands head and shoulders above the rest. The rest of the sound spectrum is actually quite good. I notice no major veiling in the midrange and the bass is nice and firm. I hear no ‘loudness wars' artifacts or any major compression or gating issues as sustain of notes are reasonably well defined and natural. The vinyl I received is dead flat and very clean without any hints of the hazy mold release residue covering the surface of may new records.
Musically speaking, if you are a fan of Pat Metheny's more modern efforts, you are going to thoroughly enjoy this release. This release has all of Pat's signature ‘tone' and fingering styles. As a plus you get Christian McBride's quick witted sense rhythm and timing. Then you have Antonio Sanchez. Boy, more often than not you'd almost swear Pat has chosen to play with two drummers at the same time. This guys is so good and so fast, he adds a completely new dimension to the job description Jazz Drummer.
I highly recommend buying this release on vinyl. Besides getting the bonus CDs, musically speaking this is quintessential Pat Metheny. This album is extremely enjoyable and will satisfy both the hardcore and occasional Jazz fan. I purchased this from Amazon at the list price of $35. Not bad at all considering what some of the audiophile labels are charging for a single 180 gram LP nowadays.
Let us vinylphiles not forget, it is up to us to show support when our favorite musicians release things on vinyl. If we don't, they will stop producing it. It is pure economics. Based on my conversations with Pat a few years ago, I'm sure this is Nonesuch's ‘trial balloon' to see if there really is a market for Pat Metheny on vinyl. I for one wrote Pat and thanked him for allowing a vinyl release. I just pray there are more to come though I would like to see the mastering done by Stan Ricker. As I've mentioned many times before, the custom cutting head Stan uses digs deeper into the details of the music than anyone else's. Not to mention, Stan simply has a really good ear.