Pat Metheny Unveils ‘MoonDial’ and UK Tour Dates

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The legendary American guitarist, composer, and improviser Pat Metheny has once again pushed the boundaries of his artistry with the announcement of his newest album, ‘MoonDial,’ set for release on July 26th via BMG. This highly anticipated release comes ahead of Metheny’s two eagerly awaited UK shows at Symphony Hall in Birmingham on November 14th and the Barbican on November 16th, as part of the prestigious London Jazz Festival.

Metheny, a 20-time Grammy winner, has treated fans to a tantalizing glimpse of ‘MoonDial’ with the release of the beloved Chick Corea tune “You’re Everything,” which serves as the album’s second single. While ‘MoonDial’ may superficially evoke memories of Metheny’s previous solo outings, ‘One Quiet Night’ (2003) and ‘What’s It All About’ (2011), in that it is a purely solo album with no overdubs, recorded on baritone guitar, the differences become apparent upon closer inspection.

The most striking distinction lies in the instrument itself – a custom-built nylon-string baritone guitar crafted by Linda Manzer, one of the world’s premier luthiers and a close collaborator of Metheny’s. This guitar, coupled with a new kind of nylon string made in Argentina, has allowed Metheny to explore a tuning system previously possible only with steel strings, igniting a newfound excitement that prompted him to conceive, record, and release a new album in the midst of another tour – a first for the esteemed artist.

As Metheny himself puts it, “It is a beautiful, rich and kind of infinite-feeling new world for me.”

The choice of repertoire on ‘MoonDial’ follows a similar path to ‘One Quiet Night’ and ‘What’s It All About,’ blending Metheny’s original compositions inspired by the new instrument with carefully curated standards that are the perfect match for his sonic explorations. Alongside Corea’s “You’re Everything,” listeners will be treated to Lennon and McCartney’s “Here, There and Everywhere,” the Matt Dennis standards “Angel Eyes” and “Everything Happens to Me” (combined with Bernstein’s “Somewhere”), David Raskin’s “My Love and I” (written for the Burt Lancaster western ‘Apache’), and the traditional “Londonderry Air.”

Many of Metheny’s originals were written during last fall’s ‘Dream Box’ tour, as he explored the possibilities of his new setup, while others, like “This Belongs to You,” hark back to his Unity Band recordings in 2012. Uniting these diverse offerings is a vibe Metheny describes as “intense contemplation,” with the instrument itself taking center stage.

“[Last fall’s tour] represented not just the sound and vibe of the ‘Dream Box’ release, but really was an opportunity for me to look at all the other ways I have released records and done occasional performances in a solo setting across the years,” Metheny explains. “Each one of those solo recordings, and ‘Dream Box’ as well, are unlike the others. The idea for me is to try to keep coming up with different angles and ways of thinking about music while hopefully keeping a fundamental aesthetic at work in all of it. In other words, to continue the research.”

During his career, Metheny’s “research” has yielded a catalogue of over 50 recordings, garnering 39 Grammy nominations and 20 wins across twelve different categories – a testament to his unparalleled influence and boundary-pushing artistry. From the genre-defining ‘New Chautauqua’ in 1979, which almost single-handedly ushered in an era of instrumental steel-stringed Americana, to the groundbreaking ‘Zero Tolerance For Silence’ and its companion piece, the Grammy-winning ‘Secret Story,’ Metheny’s work has consistently pushed the boundaries of modern music-making.

The ‘Orchestrion Project,’ for which Metheny wrote the music and built a series of instruments controlled by his guitar, recording the results both in the studio and in a live concert setting, was so innovative in its conception and execution that even a decade-plus later, it stands apart from any previous notions of what a solo performer might achieve onstage.

Alongside these groundbreaking projects, Metheny has continued to develop his solo baritone guitar recordings, with the Grammy-winning ‘One Quiet Night’ and ‘What’s It All About’ serving as stylistic predecessors to ‘MoonDial.’ Not only do these albums shine as pure solo guitar recordings, but the entirely new tuning system they introduced allowed Metheny to create an almost orchestral range, from bass to soprano, that is heard once again on ‘MoonDial.’

With the release of ‘MoonDial’ and his upcoming UK tour dates, Pat Metheny continues to cement his legacy as one of the most innovative and influential artists of our time. Fans in Birmingham and London are in for a truly special treat as Metheny takes the stage to showcase his latest “research” and push the boundaries of what is possible with a single guitar.

Pat Metheny: Dream Box/MoonDial UK tour dates:
Nov 14: Birmingham, UK (Birmingham Symphony Hall)
Nov 16: London, United Kingdom (Barbican)

Photos by Jimmy Katz

Last modified: July 9, 2024