Search - Pat Metheny, Ornette Coleman :: Song X

Song X
Pat Metheny, Ornette Coleman
Song X
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, R&B
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1

Pat Metheny confounded fans and critics alike with this opening salvo for his new label, Geffen, delivering among the most uninhibited, collective meltdowns ever released on a major pop label. Song X served notice that th...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Pat Metheny, Ornette Coleman
Title: Song X
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Geffen Records
Release Date: 10/25/1990
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, R&B
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Modern Postbebop, Smooth Jazz, Bebop, Funk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 720642409626

Synopsis essential recording
Pat Metheny confounded fans and critics alike with this opening salvo for his new label, Geffen, delivering among the most uninhibited, collective meltdowns ever released on a major pop label. Song X served notice that this was one artist who refused to be pigeonholed. In joining forces with jazz maverick Ornette Coleman, Metheny midwifed a compelling declaration of principles on behalf of experimental musicians. Jack DeJohnette and Denardo Coleman throw down on acoustic and electronic percussion, and stalwart bassist Charlie Haden holds down the time. Metheny and Coleman journey through the interstellar regions of collective improvisation on the saxophonist's fulminating title tune and "Video Games" (with Metheny's room-full-of-mirrors synth guitar inventions) while unleashing a horde of killer bees on "Endangered Species." Still, for all the collective freneticism, the lyrical, swinging side of each artist is well represented on the Tex-Mex airs of "Trigonometry," the bluesy "Mob Job" and the elegant "Kathleen Grey." --Chip Stern

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CD Reviews

I finally get it . . .
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 06/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

". . . after ten years. I don't know why it took me so long, but I'm finally enjoying this wonderful, if slightly off-kilter, session. I think this is at least the third disc of this music that I've bought--not all, thankfully, at full price. And I'm keeping this one.

Maybe it's just that my ears have, over the past decade, opened up a little. That's part of it, I think. And I do remember listening to it this time around with no particular expectations. A few observations. I'm entirely taken by Coleman's violin playing on "Mob Job," so much so that I'd like to have heard more of it represented here. I don't think I'd like a whole disc of it, and I know he doesn't play the violin "correctly," but he has a unique way of approaching it, achieves some delicious sonorities, and interacts with Metheny and bandmates very interestingly. I was also surprised by the quieter, more lyrical selection, "Kathelin Gray" (a mournful, elegiac ballad), and parts of "Mob Job."

I also think the inclusion of Denardo is more than nepotism. He adds a kind of percussive thrust and coloration--granted, a little dated--that Coleman pere and Metheny obviously wanted, and to these ears, at least, he admirably acquits himself. Haden and DeJohnette are at the absolute top of their game and come across as absolutely comfortable in this, for the most part, free-jazz setting.

There is much to recommend this music to anyone used to more outré jazz--the sly blues/field holler/gospel sensibility, the unique aural signature, snatches of beauty emerging from what initially sounds like aural chaos, the last half of "Endangered Species" with its train motif, weirdo Denardo contributions, and sheer high energy, and some of Coleman's most inspired playing. One should also acknowledge the adventurous spirit demonstrated by Metheny, who risked alienating his fan base (mission accomplished, if the reviews posted at this site are typical) by setting aside his hugely popular regular jazz gig to play with one of his heroes. And it's not as if Metheny has never done this kind of thing before; the title cut to Off Ramp shares a similar approach to what's going on here.

Certainly not for everybody, but he who has an ear, let him hear."
File Under "C" for Coleman
A. M. Russell | Toronto, Canada | 08/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I was given this CD a few years ago by my brother who was given it by his brother-in-law. They're both Metheny fans but couldn't listen to this CD. I couldn't stop playing it when I first got it, and still listen to it regularly, but this is coming from an Ornette fan much more than Metheny.

It's obvious that this is an Ornette album with Metheny just another cog in the wheel. I'm not convinced that Metheny was even the right choice for guitarist on this album and would be interested to hear what Bill Frisell or Marc Ribot would have sounded like in his place. The only songs where Metheny sounds like Metheny is on the two songs he co-wrote with Ornette; Kathelin Gray and Trigonometry. They're both beautifully written and played, with very tasteful interplay between the players. That being said, I like this album better than any other Metheny album that I've heard and better than the three times I saw Metheny in concert.

If you appreciate great ensemble playing with a supergroup of musicians, playing challenging compositions than this CD is for you. If you're familiar with Coleman's previous stuff, you won't be surprised at all but if you're only familiar with Pat Metheny's relatively laid back compositional style than be prepared for a shock.

Great album all in all."
A great album, one of the great jazz albums
lexo1941 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 01/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pat Metheny is an unfortunate position. He is a richly gifted musician and a guitarist of formidable skills who has chosen to spend much of his career recording light and inoffensive music that wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack of a yoga CD, earning himself in the process an army of dedicated fans, many of whom are under the delusion that his blandest recordings are the very pinnacle of modern jazz.

It took him several years to break cover, but he did so on this fabulously disorienting and hectic session with one of his great heroes, Ornette Coleman. It may have helped that Coleman hadn't made a classic record in quite a while, but something about Metheny must have galvanised him - just as something about Coleman's steely integrity and determination to go his own way must have prompted Metheny to up his game. With a rhythm section consisting of longtime Coleman bass player Charlie Haden plus the great Jack DeJohnette and the somewhat less celebrated Denardo Coleman (Ornette's son) on drums, all five players kick up a rare old storm.

Some of the compositions have already become classics - the title track and 'Mob Job', for example. The extended version of this album contains some even more deranged cuts that were left off the original.

I started listening to jazz as a teenager in the mid-1980s, and this was the only contemporary record I heard that had anything of the fire and invention of the jazz I really loved, which was bebop. It still sounds fresh, blazing out of the stereo with punkish energy. I particularly like the fact that a large proportion of Metheny's fans can't listen to this thing at all. It just goes to show that not everyone who loves jazz loves genuinely creative and searching music.

Metheny would go on to do two things very dear to my heart: in the early 90s he recorded a solo album of manic noise guitar, 'zero tolerance for silence', which even fans of the genre don't like (although Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and I are at least two big fans), and then at the end of the century he publicly tore a furious strip off Kenny G for defacing Louis Armstrong's 'What A Wonderful World' with his nightmarish caterwauling. Rock on, Pat - the more restless you get, the better we like you."