MIKE METHENY
Twelve For The Road
(3 Valve Music)

 

Missouri native Mike Metheny is world renowned for his flugelhorn playing but with the 2015 CD release of Twelve For The Road he’s created an ambient fusion masterpiece of instrumental music. On Twelve For The Road, Mike handles all the keyboard work and the flugelhorn is only added to one track. Speaking about the album title, Mike says, “I’ve recorded / produced 12 albums since 1982, hence the title of the current CD Twelve For the Road. 12 is enough. The process has become too expensive and stressful, and the ratio of downloads to sales of my CDs is literally 5 to one. “ In his CD liner notes, Mike singles out his parents and younger brother Pat Metheny for their inspirations. Speaking to mwe3.com about the experimental nature of Twelve For The Road, Mike explains, “To say this CD was experimental would be an understatement. In late 2013 I began dabbling with a program called “Garage Band” that came with my computer but that I’d never opened. Next thing I knew I had a bunch of different tracks that were all generated by a MIDI keyboard but were too crude to ever put on a CD. That’s when a friend told me about “Logic Pro X,” and fortunately I was able to convert all of the “Garage Band” files to “Logic” and improve things. I was also able to add that one flugel track using an old AKG microphone I’ve had since 1978. Talk about a homemade CD...” Much of the music here is quite relaxed in the spirit of Ennio Morricone or even Erik Satie—and yet there are a couple quite experimental numbers on the CD as well. On Twelve For The Road, jazz legend Mike Metheny has crafted an album that brings his inventive musical craft alive and well into the 21st century. www.mikemetheny.com

 


 



mwe3.com presents an interview with
MIKE METHENY


mwe3
: What kind of album did you set out to make with Twelve For The Road? A lot of people are saying it’s a very different style from your earlier albums. People know you for your flugelhorn and trumpet so why did you choose to use the flugelhorn on only one cut on the new CD?

Mike Metheny: To say this CD was experimental would be an understatement. In late 2013 I began dabbling with a program called “Garage Band” that came with my computer but that I’d never opened. Next thing I knew I had a bunch of different tracks that were all generated by a MIDI keyboard but were too crude to ever put on a CD. That’s when a friend told me about “Logic Pro X,” and fortunately I was able to convert all of the “Garage Band” files to “Logic” and improve things. I was also able to add that one flugel track using an old AKG microphone I’ve had since 1978. Talk about a homemade CD…

mwe3: Was there a lot of overdubbing on Twelve For The Road? I would think so as you played it all yourself. Who else helped you on the production side of the album or any technical challenges you encountered?

Mike Metheny: I played all of the tracks, so yes, there are many overdubs that had to come together in the final mix. It was the mastering that needed the help of an expert, and that was done by an outstanding engineer named Bill Crain at BRC Studios here in Kansas City. I’ve known Bill for years, mostly as a very good tenor sax player, but he also has an excellent mastering suite at BRC. It was Bill who added just the right finishing touches on each track. He really knows what he’s doing.

mwe3: Were you always interested in keyboards and electronic music? Is the Twelve For The Road album something you wanted to make for a long time?

Mike Metheny: Since I’ve spent most of my career just trying to get the right notes to come out of a trumpet and/or flugelhorn, the keyboard world was never something I seriously pursued. Although there is a ballad called “Union Hill" on the CD Close Enough for Love that was performed on solo acoustic piano. As long as something is nice and slow I can usually get by.

mwe3: How many albums have you recorded and released? Would you consider a box set or compilation to sort of set the record straight?

Mike Metheny: I’ve recorded / produced 12 albums since 1982, hence the title of the current CD Twelve For the Road. 12 is enough. The process has become too expensive and stressful, I’ve said what I have to say in that medium, and the ratio of downloads to sales of my CDs is literally 5 to one. In other words, it hardly makes sense anymore to keep producing and releasing indie CDs, at least for me.

mwe3: Were you recording before your brother Pat?

Mike Metheny: I’m five years older than Pat, but as a classical player at first, I didn’t begin to focus on the jazz side until I was in my mid 20s. By then Pat was already way ahead of me as a jazz artist in all possible ways, but it was also his inspiration that got me more interested in jazz, and I will always be grateful to him for that. I didn’t make my first solo jazz record until I was in my early 30s, and I think Pat had already won a Grammy by then.

mwe3: You’re listed on the CD packaging as playing all the keyboards. What were some of the keyboards you recorded Twelve For The Road with?

Mike Metheny: I think I’ve already blown my cover with your readers when it comes to my synth gear. Twelve For The Road was done with a very basic M-Audio MIDI keyboard and a MacBook Pro laptop. That's about as far as my technical limitations will allow me to go.

mwe3: The first track on the new album is called “Prelude”. How does “Prelude” set the tone for the Twelve For The Road album? Seems like a rather ominous sounding track.

Mike Metheny: In addition to being an experimental CD, almost every track on Twelve was improvised in some form, sometimes in one take. Then it became a matter of refining, tweaking, and trying different patches. And yes, the word “ominous” could apply to “Prelude” as well as a few other tracks on the CD. For reasons I won’t bore you with, there were some ominous things going on in my life when this CD was coming together.

mwe3: “Clouds” follows and it’s also quite mercurial sounding. Did you trying to capture the songs with a descriptive song title?

Mike Metheny: Something Pat and I have in common is the struggle to come up with titles. And in the case of the set list on Twelve, most of the titles came along after the music was finished, at which point they basically named themselves.

mwe3: Track 3, “Ostinato” has a real piano on it? The track is very quiet sounding.

Mike Metheny: If that sounds like a real piano, then it’s a testament to the “Logic Pro” program! That’s also another track that easily named itself once it was done.

mwe3: “Reflections” is one of my favorite tracks on the Twelve For The Road album. It’s just a brilliant moment.

Mike Metheny: There were a lot of lucky accidents on that track as it came together. And if you ever heard the original “Garage Band” version, you wouldn’t know it was the same piece. “Reflections” is one of my favorite tracks, too.

mwe3: Track 5 “Carousel” is kind of haunting sounding. It sounds like a flashback to something from childhood. Is it a bit Satie-like or even Morricone-like in it’s overlapping, onion-like melodies? Another track mainly played on electric piano or is that a Rhodes?

Mike Metheny: Again, it's that same MIDI keyboard, but with more of a Rhodes patch. I was delighted a while back when a reviewer noted the Fellini influence. But sure, I can go for Satie and Morricone, too. The goal with that melody was to never repeat the same melody-harmony relationship. In other words, the left hand pattern is the same, but the right hand melody is always at a different interval each time through. It was a fun exercise that yielded some nice surprises.

mwe3: Track 6, “Catharsis” is a real wake-up call! Compared to the other tracks, this one just makes you jump out of your seat! Lol Did you think to have your brother Pat lay down those mind bending riffs?

Mike Metheny: If you actually made it through that track start to finish, you should be given some kind of award! Maybe even a Purple Heart! “Catharsis" was definitely done in one take, and man, it sure felt good to get all that out of my system. A real musical purge, as it were…

mwe3: “For Parkville” is track seven and it’s the shortest track on Twelve For The Road. Where is Parkville and how does the song reflect the title?

Mike Metheny: Parkville, Missouri, is where Park College—now Park University—is located, just north of Kansas City. What makes it special is that it’s where my parents met in the mid 1940s. No Park College, no Mike and Pat.

mwe3: “Transition” is the longest track on Twelve For The Road. It’s quite low-key in its approach. Why do you call it “Transition”? What keyboards are you playing on that track?

Mike Metheny: When that track was recorded, someone I knew quite well was about to leave us. Perhaps that’s as much as I should say about that…

mwe3: “Home” is another brilliant track that’s more involved sounding. In fact, it’s so cool it sounds like a science fiction theme song! Is that the only track you use flugelhorn on? Tell us about the other keyboard sounds on “Home”.

Mike Metheny: “Home” came out well, with one take on the flugel solo, and only a few keyboard overdubs. I was especially pleased when JAZZIZ magazine chose it to go on a recent sampler. Most of all, that track is a reminder that synths are cool, but they will never replace the sound of a real acoustic instrument.

mwe3: “Amen” is track ten and it closes the album. Is that kind of a spiritual title to close the album? You mentioned your parents in the liner notes so is the album kind of a look back at fleeting glimpses of your childhood and how life sometimes seems to go bye in a blink of an eye?

Mike Metheny: Remind me to hire you to write the liner notes on my next album! You pretty much nailed it.

mwe3: Would you consider another album like Twelve For The Road in the future? Tell us about your upcoming plans as a composer, recording artist and tell us any plans you have as the chairman of the Metheny Music Foundation.

Mike Metheny: The answer to your first question is “probably not.” That project pretty much scratched all of my electronic itches. And regarding the Foundation Pat and I started in ’07, I’m especially happy with the way that has been going. Lee’s Summit was a good place to grow up, and we received excellent musical instruction as beginners from a world class teacher named Keith House. Now all these years later, through our scholarship program, we are able to give back to up and coming, young Lee’s Summit music students… just like Pat and I were back in the day.




 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 1999-2016
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved