February 06, 2012
Pat Metheny and bassist Larry Grenadier perform. (Photo by David Noe)
Wednesday’s Winter Park Institute event featuring legendary jazz guitarist Pat Metheny was like eavesdropping in on a conversation amongst old friends. The crowd of musicians and jazz aficionados listened as drama and music critic Terry Teachout and Artist in Residence Chuck Archard casually conversed with Metheny about his career highlights, musical heroes, and career-altering “aha” moments.
After a humorous introduction by Director of Music John Sinclair, Teachout and Archard chatted with the 17-time Grammy award-winning guitarist, composer, and sound innovator, delivering thought-provoking questions that caused Metheny to ponder out loud about the ways in which his music had been influenced by his environment and by other musicians.
With his rare quality humility juxtaposed with an unapologetic surety about his style and musical accomplishments, Metheny said, “Even now, people don’t quite know what to make of me, and I actually have no problem with that.”
“Be the worst guy in every band you’re in,” was his advice to the dozens of budding musicians in the crowd, some carrying the mammoth Pat Metheny Songbook as evidence not only of Metheny’s venerable composing career but of his unshakable influence on today’s music students and emerging artists.
Metheny took more than a dozen questions from star-struck audience members and concluded the Q&A sessions addressing the question of whether everything that could be done had been accomplished. “There is so much more that has not been done,” he shared, encouraging the musicians in the room to find their unique place in the music world. “There are no more excuses and there are 24 hours in every day.”
A Unique Master Class
On Thursday, February 2, Metheny participated in a master class with Rollins’ music students as well as interested members of the general public. While not the traditional format of a master teacher working directly with a select group of students, Metheny provided a broader approach by discussing philosophy, technique, and a continuation of the open conversation style used the night before.
Enthusiasts traveled from as far away as Gainesville and Jacksonville to hear what jewels the artist would offer, and they were not disappointed. The crowd of over three hundred listened intently to nearly an hour of advice capped off by questions and a few minutes of the music they longed to hear—a taste of what was to follow later that evening.
An Unforgettable Concert
Finally, at 7:30 p.m., Metheny took to the stage in the Alfonds Sports Center where, accompanied by bassist Larry Grenadier, he gave an unforgettable concert for a crowd of nearly 1,600 dedicated fans. Rollins Director of Music John Sinclair and Artist in Residence Chuck Archard both commented on the audience demographic and their observation of never before having seen so many working musicians in attendance at a concert. Sinclair stated, "Metheny is obviously a musician's musician."
“His interplay with bassist Larry Grenadier was transcendent and was a perfect example of his compositions, peerless musicianship and improvisational skills,” said Archard. “His greatness was evident throughout the performance and the capacity crowd was fortunate to witness one of the significant artists of the present era.”
After more than an hour of trademark music, the format was once again open to audience questions fielded by Terry Teachout. Metheny clearly enjoyed sharing views of music-making and expressed joy at the opportunity for idea exchange, a format he had never been provided in his more than forty years of concertizing. The audience expressed its gratitude for the stellar event with an immediate standing ovation at evening's end.