Pat Metheny


The Orchestrion Project, Nonesuch ****

Like some kind of latter-day PT Barnum, guitarist Pat Metheny has toured his fabulous robotic orchestra for the past couple of years to rave reviews. The Orchestrion, a fully automated ensemble of keyboards, guitars, xylophones, tuned bottle arrays and percussion instruments, is all controlled by Metheny with his hands, his feet and his pen.

If it sounds complicated, it’s probably easier to control than a stage full of real musicians, but it’s not quite as grooving, and putting it on record poses some interesting philosophical questions. Indeed, without the giddying excitement of the visuals, one might be tempted to wonder what’s the point. But then the solos start and, well, it’s Pat Metheny who, when it comes to guitar solos, is still the greatest show on earth.