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 Friday, 27 November 2015
Pat Metheny’s Unity Band at the Dakota, September 4-5 PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Pat Metheny (by Eamonn McCabe)

Touring with what might be his most volcanic band yet, Grammy-winning, genre-defining guitarist Pat Metheny bring his Unity Band to the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, September 4-5. The band features tenor sax titan Chris Potter (Metheny’s first pairing with saxophone in over 30 years), rising star, Monk Competition winning bassist Ben Williams, and long-time cohort, drummer Antonio Sanchez. "This is a group of musicians who can do just about anything," explains Pat.

Pat Metheny. A native of Kansas City, Pat Metheny started out on trumpet and switched to guitar at age 12. Within a few years, he was working with the top jazz artists in the area, making his international debut in 1974 at age 20. A three-year stint with Gary Burton and his debut album, Bright Size Life (1975) introduced many to his trademark style and modern conception of rhythm and harmony.  Over his career Pat has re-defined jazz guitar by utilizing new technology to develop the improvisational and sonic potential of the instrument. He has performed with virtually every star of the genre and beyond, from Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman to Herbie Hancock to Jim Hall to Milton Nascimento to David Bowie. He’s had a long association as co-writer with Lyle Mays, and has written compositions for solo guitar, large orchestras, ballets, and jazz, rock and classical settings. The Pat Metheny Group, founded in 1977, is the only ensemble in history to win Grammys for seven consecutive releases. Overall, Pat has won 19 Grammies in 12 categories.

Chris Potter©Andrea Canter
Chris Potter. Like Metheny, Chris Potter was a child prodigy who has lived up to his early billing. Winner of the IAJE Young Talent award for saxophone at age 12, a protégé of Marian McPartland by 15, a member of the Red Rodney band while still in his teens, and with a long list of recordings as both leader and sideman while still in his 20s, Potter is a perennial critics’ and listeners’ poll winner on tenor saxophone, and leader of one of the most revered ensembles in modern jazz, Underground. Born in Chicago and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, Potter studied jazz and played in the University of South Carolina band as a middle school and high school student. Named by Down Beat Magazine as the top high school jazz instrumentalist at 18, he studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and later at the Manhattan School of Music. In 1991 he was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Tenor Sax competition, along with Eric Alexander and winner Joshua Redman. In 2000 Potter won  Denmark’s 2000 Jazzpar prize as its youngest-ever recipient. Well known for his virtuosity on a variety of reeds and his individuality as a composer, his style has some echoes Sonny Rollins and self-identified influences of Coltrane, Parker, Shorter, and Ornette Coleman. Notes Metheny, “As a fan, I have watched as he has become one of the greatest musicians of our time.”

Ben Williams
Ben Williams. Winner of the Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition in 2009, Ben Williams grew up in the Washington, DC area. And he seems to collect competition awards—as two-time winner of the DC Public School Piano Competition; a 2002 recipient of the Duke Ellington Society Annual Scholarship Award; winner of the 2005 International Society of Bassists (ISB) competition in the jazz category, and more. A recent graduate of Michigan State University, he has already performed with Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Mulgrew Miller, Cyrus Chestnut, Stefon Harris, Hamiett Bluiette, Bobby Watson, Winard Harper, Buster Williams, John Hicks, Me’Shelle N’degeocello, Wycliffe Gordon, and Delfeayo Marsalis, among others. With his quintet Sound Effects, he released his debut album, State of Art, in 2011. Metheny first heard Williams on the invitation of Christian McBride. “Ben Williams was featured on a few tunes and his playing spoke to me immediately.”

Antonio Sanchez©Andrea Canter
Antonio Sanchez. Mexico City native Antonio Sanchez discovered his affinity for the drums at age five. At 17, he enrolled in the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City, later extending his studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. While in Boston, Sanchez had the opportunity to play with such area residents as Gary Burton, Mick Goodrick and Danilo Perez. He studied further with Perez and George Garzone at the New England Conservatory of Music before Paquito D’Rivera recruited him for the drum chair of  Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra. Later he joined Perez’ acoustic trio. While touring with Perez in Europe, Sanchez was offered the chance to work with the Pat Metheny Group. He later joined Metheny’s acoustic trio with Christian McBride. Sanchez has also played with Michael Brecker, David Sanchez, Charlie Haden, John Patitucci, Chris Potter, Avishai Cohen, Marcus Roberts, Dave Samuels, Claudia Acuña, and Luciana Souza. Metheny describes him as “one of the most talented drummers of his generation… There was a certain kind of power I knew that Chris and I would be getting to and I can’t think of anyone who could take us to that place better than Antonio.”


Unity Band

Once he had determined the members of the new band, Metheny wrote a a number of new compositions, leading to the Unity Band’s first eponymous recording, released in June 2012 on Nonesuch. “It’s funny, I have heard so many guitar/tenor records that have been clearly influenced by that 80/81 sound, and yet I really wanted to try to take it to a different place this time, even though that record was certain to be a reference point along the way,” Metheny says.


Fresh off their performance at the Detroit Jazz Festival, Pat Metheny’s Unity Band will come to the Dakota Jazz Club for two glorious nights, September 4-5.


The Dakota is located at 1010 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis; Sets each night at 7 amd 9 pm, tickets $50-$100 at 612-332-5299.

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