Pat Metheny / Ornette Coleman
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Brian Olewnick [allmusic.com]
Guitarist Pat Metheny had long expressed admiration for Ornette Coleman's music, had recorded his compositions, and had worked extensively with bassist Charlie Haden, so a collaboration was not totally unexpected, though who would have guessed that it would be on the Geffen label? Metheny's almost rock star status has worked against him in other partnerships from time to time (notably, his overbearing playing on his project with Derek Bailey, The Sign of 4), but here he happily sublimates his showier instincts and works as sympathetic co-leader, deferring to Coleman's experience and genius. The music itself bears strong similarities to that of Coleman's Prime Time ensembles wherein all players solo at once, bracketed by the themes of the piece. Metheny often manages to be a quite expressive second voice, racing along beside the master saxophonist, offering alternative strategies and never showboating. The tandem percussion team of Jack DeJohnette and Coleman's son Denardo are ferocious when need be, and Charlie Haden is his standard exemplary self. Metheny fans owe it to themselves to listen to some of his most exploratory and least ''pastel'' playing and, in fact, the album also contains some of Coleman's best work since the mid-'70s.