Despite the somewhat misleading title, Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny, trumpeter Cuong Vu has a lengthy history with the legendary jazz guitarist that goes back to Metheny's Grammy-winning 2002 album, Speaking of Now. Since then, Vu has played with Metheny enough that he is a regular part of the conversation when discussing the guitarist's more adventurous contemporary works. Despite his pedigree, having graduated from the New England Conservatory and worked with such luminaries as David Bowie, Myra Melford, Laurie Anderson, and others, Vu is a maverick. A highly gifted, forward-thinking musician, Vu often eschews the more clarion, declarative aspects of his chosen instrument in favor of macabre growls, dampened tones, and improvisatory lines that skitter forth with the mad convulsions of a housefly.
This album finds guitarist Pat Metheny on solid ground. It's a typical post-bop with a vaguely Latin feel. Metheny hooks up with his regular partners, Christian McBride on double bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. As you'd expect for musicians who have played hundreds of dates together they're very comfortable in each other's company.
…While preceding Metheny releases were more ambitious (THE WAY UP) or piano-oriented (see his albums with Brad Mehldau), DAY TRIP presents the guitarist getting back to basics while losing none of his eclecticism.
This CD contains some interesting material not found elsewhere. Recorded live at Palace of Festivals Theatre in Cannes, France in January 1981 and January 1983, the disc features Metheny, Gary Burton, the Heath Brothers, Ahmad Jamal, and the Hum Trio. It is very hard to find and available only on the Fruit Tree (Italy) label (1999). Highly recommended, this CD will be irrestible to fans of quartet-format jazz or any of the artists, who seem to have been captured at their best.
Here you have three absolutely breathtaking jazz performers locked into a studio for a day or so. From this combination of guitar, standup bass, and acoustic drum kit, you've got nine tracks of sheer jazz joy – three guys just blowing for the hell of it, recorded on the fly. There's a strong sense here that engineer Rob Eaton probably tried to get everybody properly set up and balanced before the session started and just gave up when everybody started playing. It's a delight to hear, because everything has gone into the performance, which is spontaneous and graceful – no going back for the next take here. Pat Metheny's playing is definitely modernistic, highly fluid, almost liquid lightning – no effects boxes here, though (he does play Synclavier on the last track, "Three Flights Up," but it's great anyway). Roy Haynes, likewise, should be heard by anybody wanting to get behind the traps: this man has a sense of humor, and he's a blur of motion. Dave Holland, on bass, is no slouch either, keeping pace with Metheny's guitar lines, and balancing up against Haynes' drums. Together, these guys are incredible.
This set, recorded at New York City's Bottom Line in September of 1978, is a wonderful example of the Pat Metheny Group onstage at this early stage, shortly after the release of their debut album. Not surprisingly, the set includes material from that album, but also explores older and side project material in the context of this quartet, as well and a couple of key compositions destined for the group's follow-up, American Garage. As such, this set serves up a fine example of what drew attention to this group in the first place and will be illuminating to anyone interested in this relatively early stage of Pat Metheny's career as a performing musician.