It’s not unusual for a musician in the Kansas City area to fall in love with jazz. But it is unusual for him to start as a high school kid, playing onstage with some of the best in the jazz tradition, redefining the jazz guitar, then becoming at 19 the youngest teacher ever at Berklee College of Music, and, over 30 years, earning 19 Grammys. Nineteen.
Pat Metheny, iconic innovator, and his all-star Unity Band will bring jazz rejuvenation to Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at UConn on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. On this European and U.S. tour, Metheny has returned to a quartet approach with stellar band members Antonio Sanchez on drums, Ben Williams at bass and Chris Potter on sax.
Born into a musical family in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, in 1954, Metheny took up trumpet at age 8 and then his defining instrument, the guitar, at 12. Three years later he was performing with the best Kansas City jazz players. He entered the international scene in 1974 and spent three years alongside vibraphone phenom Gary Burton, during which Metheny developed his loose and flexible style, connecting the dots between traditional jazz melody, swing and blues to his all-new improvisational and technically enhanced trademark playing.
Metheny recorded his first album, Bright Size Life, in 1975. Since then he has made multiple recordings: solo, small ensemble, vocal accompaniment, soundtracks, symphonic projects and albums with his band, the Pat Metheny Group. He has recorded with Ornette Coleman (Song X), Joni Mitchell, Chick Corea, David Bowie (soundtrack of the film The Falcon and the Snowman), Steve Reich, Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau. His latest album, What It’s All About, won a Grammy for Best New Age Album, Metheny’s 19th. His other Grammys cross categories of jazz, rock, contemporary and fusion.
He has won numerous top guitarist awards, including three years running (2009-11) as Best Guitarist in DownBeat magazine’s readers poll and the Miles Davis Award at the 1995 Montreal International Jazz Festival. A pioneer in synthesizers and custom instruments, Metheny has been key in developing the soprano acoustic guitar, the 42-string Pikasso guitar, and Ibanez’s PM-100 jazz guitar.
He has been touring for more than 30 years, playing between 120 and 240 concerts a year.
Jorgensen was recently named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll for 2012 and “Best Cabaret” in 2011 and 2012 by Connecticut Magazine.
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Regular tickets are $39, $35 and $32, with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or order online at jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.