Not that I ever have what could rightly be described as a “rough day” — I mean, I make stuff look pretty for a living, not lay railroad track — but when the sun goes down and I’m feeling a little frayed around the edges, this is one of my favorite albums to play.
I think, for a lot of casual or non-jazz listeners, Metheny has a rep for making bland, slick instrumental music, and I think a lot of that is deserved. But he’s also one of the more adventurous spirits on the contemporary mainstream scene today; if you don’t believe me, get yourself a copy of Zero Tolerance for Silence. Even when he sounds like he’s making elevator music, there’s usually something interesting going on beneath the surface. He has too much instrumental and compositional muscle to ever be truly dull.
That being said, I can’t listen to his Pat Metheny Group records. I don’t care how musically solid they are, they sound like jazz for guys named Chad.
One Quiet Night is a departure, and a nice one to boot — just Metheny and an acoustic baritone guitar. Good stuff. Slip “Song for the Boys” (download) and his covers of “Don’t Know Why” (download) and “Ferry Cross the Mersey” (download) on for size, then get your hands on a copy of the album.