Missouri state of mind
Jazz legends Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden have journeyed into the mid-West. Phil Johnson listens in
Friday 21 February 1997
It wasn't always thus, and Haden's present peace of mind, as expressed in the lyrical beauty of the album, has been a hard-won thing. In 1957, he left his home in Forsyth, Missouri, to attend music college in Los Angeles. After becoming the bassist in the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet, helping to create free jazz, he went through a long bout of heroin addiction, which, unlike many of his peers such as Art Pepper and Chet Baker, he survived. He met Metheny, who grew up a hundred miles away, in Lee's Summit, Missouri, in 1973, at an Ornette Coleman concert. The guitarist, who is 17 years younger than Haden, became a star of fusion in the Seventies, and he remains one of the most commercially successful of all jazz musicians, mixing the guitar heroics of his own bands with occasional excursions into the experimental. When Haden married his present wife, Ruth Cameron, in 1989, Metheny was best man.
They had planned to make a record together for years and when the chance came, Beyond the Missouri Sky was recorded in a few days, on a low budget like most jazz albums. "It's about the country," Haden says when we meet again later. "It's about the mid-West, the heartland.'' Metheny, who has a striking frizzed-out hairstyle, a kind of jazz version of a Michael Bolton, concurred: "Missouri was about a time in my life when there was space to think about music." It's also, says Charlie, about wood. Come again? "I really play the wood of the instrument," he says. "When they made basses in the old days, they really had to find the best wood, and I think of the wood and the varnish as a musical sound, as an extension of the instrument's vibrations. "
The warmth of the album's sound is an effect that Haden, Metheny and their engineer strove to achieve (the album was recorded using a new, completely digital, process) in an attempt to recapture the feeling the two had when they played together in Haden's living room one New Year's Eve. When you listen to the music - and true muzak, of course, doesn't need to be listened to - it's like gathering around the campfire as Metheny's Huck Finn, and Haden's Mark Twain hunker down to tell their tales. Sure, they've all got happy endings, and there's a touch of Walt Disney in there somewhere, but it really is a beautiful record. Just don't mention muzak, right? n
'Beyond the Missouri Sky' is released on Verve
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him