Pat Metheny’s Gift

Pat Metheny in flight

By Tom Gates

In 1972 at the University of Miami, I met the future of jazz guitar. He was an eighteen year-old kid from Missouri named Pat Metheny.

There were very few colleges that offered guitar studies in 1972, and I was accepted into the Studio Music and Jazz program. The number of young guitarists that showed up in Miami was impressive. We had been inspired and motivated by the amazing and wonderful rock and roll of the late 1960’s and the new breed of guitarists fusing rock with the jazz tradition.

Pat Metheny had it. He got it. He had listened and studied and practiced and researched and loved it so much that when I met him at age 18 he was stunning. Deep musicality combined with genuine personal presence is a powerful combination. Pat can weave a musical melody over any chord changes. Not just a line that is correct and logical, but a creation with meaning. How? How do you create real feeling and an important moment with an improvised  creation?

I was fortunate to spend some time with Pat both in lessons and socially in 1972-73 before his move to Boston and beyond. It was a joy and his musicality has inspired me ever since.

Pat Metheny has discussed his search for an original voice. Whatever instrument you play do not try to emulate your favorite player. Look at the entire spectrum of players of your instrument. Look in the cracks between styles. What hasn’t been done? That’s what you should do.

Here is a beautiful solo guitar medley from Pat Metheny:

And a soaring band track:

Pat Metheny’s Gift