Pat Metheny’s one-man band comes to town

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Pat Metheny’s one-man band comes to town

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Pat Metheny brings his orchestrion, a collection of mechanically controlled musical instruments, to LG Arts Center next month. Provided by LG Arts Center

When you see the animated short film, “One Man Band” (Pixar, 2005) a lone instrumentalist plays in a deserted village square, with a trombone, accordion, bass drum and trumpet strapped to his body. The man belts out a tune, awaiting his accolades.

Legendary jazz guitarist Pat Metheny launched a similar project in January called “Orchestrion,” which he says is a realization of things he imagined when he was a child.

His orchestrion, which is also the name of his new album and its title track, takes the idea of the one man band to the extreme: It is a group of 25 mechanical instruments, including bass, guitar, marimba, percussion, piano and even bottles, all of which are controlled by a set of pedals with the help of computer software.

The musician, who is often called a “musical adventurer,” will bring his Orchestrion Tour to Seoul for four days next month, when he will perform works from his new album as well as his signature solo guitar improvisations.

Metheney’s orchestrion is an updated version of the ones created in the mid-1800s.

The first orchestrion was a small pipe organ. The instrument later included wind and percussion instruments that were operated by a cylindrical device, as with a player piano, creating a faux orchestra.

“I always imagined that it might be fun to try to look at those instruments through the prism of everything else I’ve done in terms of harmony, and in terms of melody. I’m kind of amazed that we’ve gotten to 10 years into the 21st century and it hasn’t been explored that much,” Metheny said in a media interview earlier regarding his latest challenge.

The guitar icon added that he went to many museums and concerts to see and hear early versions of player pianos and orchestrions.

Metheny made his debut in the international jazz scene in 1975 when he joined Gary Burton’s band, where he played alongside resident jazz guitarist Mick Goodrick.

Later, he won acclaim for reinterpreting the traditional sounds of the jazz guitar in his first album, “Bright Size Life,” out in 1976. The guitarist has since had three gold albums and collected 17 Grammy Awards.

Those who want to have a closer look at how Metheny’s orchestrion works can go to “Pat Metheny - Orchestrion Preview” on YouTube.

*The Orchestrion Tour will run from June 2 to 5 at LG Arts Center. Go to Yeoksam Station, line No. 2, exit 7.

Tickets range from 40,000 won ($33) to 100,000 won. For booking information, call (02) 2005-0114 send an e-mail to arts2005@lgart.com or visit the Web site at www.lgart.com.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]
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