Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Oct 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Metal Machine Music

music_PatMethenyPat Metheny’s robot band rocks the Civic
In the music documentary film Dig!, a member of the neo-psychedelic rock band The Brian Jonestown Massacre comments that the group’s vocalist, Anton Newcombe, would love to be able to clone himself so as to be able to play all the instruments himself. Science might have a little way to go before such a scenario can be actualized, but the ever-inventive Pat Metheny, a pioneering jazz guitarist who’s won no less than 17 Grammy Awards in 12 different categories, has done the next best thing: He’s created the “New Orchestrion,” a device that uses the technology of solenoid switches and pneumatics to control instruments such as vibraphones, percussion, keyboards, glass jugs and a “guitar-bot” with four single-stringed necks. By commanding his robot army via a MIDI-equipped guitar and programmed computer sequences, Metheny has the enviable ability to be his own backup band. “For me, what is represented in this project is organic to my personal interests and is intrinsic to the fairly odd skill set that I have had to develop, not just with this project, but with everything I have had to do to be the kind of musician that I ended up being,” Metheny offers. “Knobs, wires, electricity, and all the rest are kind of part and parcel of the world I have lived in over the past 40 years or so—not unlike what reeds are to sax players and mouthpieces are to trumpet players. All of this, including computers and everything else, kind of makes up my instrument.”
The 55-year-old musician, whose New Orchestrion functions by way of devices created by such inventors as New York’s Eric Singer and California’s Ken Caulkins, says this project is simply the latest manifestation of his constant search for the possibilities that this sort of technology offers. “But again, this is a very personal thing for me,” he notes. “Most people have thought I was nuts all along the way for even trying to do something on this scale.”
Metheny’s latest undertaking is hardly his first groundbreaking musical endeavor: He’s credited with introducing alternate 12-string tunings to the jazz idiom, was one of the first jazz musicians to make extensive use of the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer, and has turned heads with his custom-made Pikasso I, a 42-string, three-necked guitar created by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer.
Though the guitarist’s ambitions have led him into seemingly futuristic terrain this time around, his new creation actually has its roots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when a large, player piano-like contraption called an “orchestrion” played various orchestral instruments by way of a large pinned cylinder or a perforated music roll.
In spite of the cutting-edge nature of the New Orchestrion venture, Metheny stresses, “Behind this or any other musical effort, the basic qualities of spirit, soul, feeling and, of course, a high level of content—harmonically, melodically and rhythmically—must be there, at least for me.” He adds that the use of the orchestrion still leaves plenty of room for spontaneity: A performance with his mechanical band can be “whatever I want it to be, from extremely detailed composition to 100 percent purely improvised and every shade in between at any time.”
Does Metheny notice a difference in his guitar playing when he’s being backed up by his cyber-selves? “Each setting offers different demands and challenges as well as opportunities to discover other aspects of music,” he states. “I always try to find something in each setting that gives me the chance to tell a story. The narrative, communicative aspect of music is endlessly fun and fascinating to me, and that pursuit is what everything I do revolves around.”

Pat Metheny plays at 8 p.m. Monday, April 26 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $68.25 Gold Circle or $47.25/  $36.75 general. For more information, call 420-5260 or go to santacruztickets.com.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay