Pat Metheny "Bright Size Life"

1976, ECM records

With: Jaco Pastorius on Bass and Bob Moses on drums

Track Listing: Bright Size Life, Sirabhorn, Unity Village, Missouri Uncompromised, Midwestern Nights dream, Unquity Road, Omaha Celebration, Round Trip/Broadway Blues

Many Pat Metheny fans recognize this early landmark album. With Bob Moses and Jaco Pastorius, it is difficult to ignore. Then there is the playing and composition which makes this a solid album.

Pat's guitar and Jaco's bass meld very well together. Some say this is Jaco's debut, a year before the acclaimed Weather Report album "Heavy Weather." Listen to Midwestern Nights Dream and you'll see why Jaco attracted so much attention. Pat's guitar work is sharp and crisp, sometimes solo, sometimes with bass and drums.

This album is a sparse framework for exceptional playing and detailed jazz textures. Bright Size Life is not like First Circle, where a dense collage of playing clearly defines the melodies and direction with a solid beat. It's more like New Chautauqua with drums. Often very ambient, this album lets the individual players speak while instigating reflection in the listener. For me, I picture the Midwestern United States; the big sky on a warm, fading day. If you want an idea, just look at the cover...

This is much more straight ahead jazz than Pat's other albums. It's an excellent example of Pat's interesting composition style and a different venue for Jaco and Bob Moses. From the moody Midwestern Nights Dream to the bright Omaha Celebration and title song, this disk provides great playing, excellent compositional skills, and a variety of textures. If you are a fan of Pat's more popular early works, such as Travels, First Circle, or Off Ramp, you'll find Pat covering different ground here, and the foundation for projects later in his career. Listen to Missouri Uncompromised. You will hear the same feel that permeates 80/81. Unity Village is a solo piece, with the teasings of Going Ahead from Travels, or the solo guitar section often heard in Pat's curent concerts. If you're looking for good jazz, this is one you can count on.

Review By Michael Johnsen, 1999