PAT METHENY GROUP – Still Life (Talking) (1987)

Review by: Markus Pilskog
Album assigned by: Lex Alfonso

Pat Metheny Group started out in the late 70s as a vehicle for jazz guitarist Pat Metheny to play in a more typical band setting and have a more regular band unit, with keyboardist Lyle Mears as the main sideman. While Pat Metheny does have his roots in the 70s jazz fusion scene, he quickly left, and on this album the band uses influences from Brazilian music (samba and folk music) as well as pop, rather than rock. This is highligted with the inclusion of the Brazilian musician Armando Marçal, who is featured on percussion and background vocals.

What becomes quickly evident when listening to this record is that it’s not a particularly difficult album to listen to, as long as you’re OK with music that don’t contain any lyrics. ”Minuano” opens the record with some dreamy synths and wordless vocals from Marçal, and it takes almost three minutes before Pat Metheny enters the arena. However, he quickly establishes a quite melodic and catchy theme that fit well with the Brazilian percussion and general feel of the song.

The rest of the record doesn’t stray too far away from this intial sound, though the songs do retain a distinct character, with some being more rhythmic and up-beat and others being more low-key and atmospheric. While some of the melodies and the atmosphere in general may feel slightly cheesy at times and somewhat dated, this never becomes more than a minor nuisance. This remains a jazz album that is quite accessible, while at the same time having its distinct character that separates it from quite many other records. This album should be enjoyed both by people that aren’t very familiar with jazz, as well as most jazz enthusiasts (perhaps with the exception of some purists). 

Author: tomymostalas


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