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Over the course of a 30-plus year career, Pat Metheny has experimented with every possible combination of instruments you could think of. With his newly formed Unity Band, Metheny brings back the quartet format with über-sax player Chris Potter joining the fold. Potter’s robust, thick tone is the perfect foil for Metheny’s folk-infused bebop lines and post-bop Americana tunes. As his first solo album with a tenor in the frontline since 80/81 (which featured the late Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman), Metheny digs deep into his compositional grab bag for a collection of tunes that feel as open as a Missouri wheat field, but also have a laser-sharp focus when it comes to intensity.
Rounding out the quartet is Metheny’s longtime percussive partner Antonio Sanchez and young bassist Ben Williams. The cross-generational musical conversation is amply supported by Sanchez’s deep rapport with Metheny’s music. The two have been playing together for nearly a decade and their creative connection—fueled by Williams’ fire—proves the Unity Band is aptly named. —Jason Shadrick
Must-hear track: “Roofdogs,” “Breakdealer”