Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
May 25th
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

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival