Arguably, this is the band that elevated guitar great Pat Metheny’s artistry to the masses. With lyrically resplendent themes and a cross-polarization of jazz-fusion motifs and contemporary jazz, they also pursue driving, group-based improvisation amid breezy, folk-derived themes. Nonetheless, this DVD filmed in 1998 at a California winery serves as an appeasing backdrop for the band’s multifarious performances. And they operate with a regimented modus operandi, where Metheny uses his arsenal of electric, acoustic and synth guitars for texture, torrid exchanges and dreamy melodic passages.
Playing to an exuberant audience at a calming outdoor area, Metheny executes works from the Imaginary Day album along with other compositions, featuring the wordless vocals of Mark Ledford and Philip Hamilton. No doubt, Metheny is the traffic director here, whether steering the musicians through softly woven acoustic-electric ballads or engaging in climactic solo spots that are often constructed upon a layered approach.
The film crew generates a sense of movement via pan and overhead shots. Otherwise, Metheny’s emotive stage presence is somewhat akin to a rock-star’s gait. It’s a colorific gala indeed as drummer Paul Wertico lays down the solid pulses while shading these arrangements with his extensive array of cymbals. At times, the artists fuse a world music vibe, featuring keyboardist Lyle Mays’ synth-flute lines atop Jeff Haynes’ buoyant percussion grooves to complement numerous contrasts, firmed-up by the unit’s disparate instrumentation
Metheny and his band-mates multitask throughout, as Hamilton and Ledford augment their vocals with percussion and other instruments. Yet the leader tempers the flow during the piece "Across The Sky," which is designed upon his dark-toned lines and Mays’ airy piano parts. In sum, this expertly filmed event should warm the hearts and minds of the guitarist’s broad fan base. (The DVD also includes an interview with the Metheny.... )Running time: 93 mins appox.