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May 29, 2021
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Jazz Saturdays: Last Train Home

My time “growing up” in jazz was in the late 90s and early 2000s in Kansas City. Those were the days of the “young lions” of the postbop scene, with Branford Marsalis leading the Tonight Show band, Christian McBride and Joshua Redman breaking barriers, and a general revival of jazz after the stagnation of the late 70s and early 80s. So much great music was being played.

Being from Kansas City, the musicians like Bobby Watson and Pat Metheny had a special place in my heart. These were guys who came from KC then left and set the world on fire. I was lucky to see the Pat Metheny Group live in concert in KC while I was in college. The sound textures! The arrangements! That was the best live show I’ve ever seen. (Also, the endurance! They played for almost four hours. The audience looked more exhuasted than Pat did at the end.)

Last Train Home has always been one of my favorite Metheny tunes. Here’s a live version from the Pat Metheny Group:

In April one of my favorite jazz guitarists, John Pizzarelli, released a solo album of his takes on Pat Metheny tunes. This shouldn’t work. Pat’s tunes are composed for a huge band with lots of instruments. Yet it does. Maybe it’s because John’s guitar has seven strings instead of six, or maybe it’s because he’s a great musician and that’s what it takes to interpret another great musician’s compositions.

Besides the music, I also love the promo videos for the album. John has a quarantine beard and is wearing a cardigan. They are obviously not professionally shot. It’s just a guy on his porch with a guitar, playing a great tune for you because you stopped by. That’s about as 2021 as you can get.

Here’s John’s version of Last Train Home: