Pat Metheny, guitar
Chris Potter, tenor saxophone & bass clarinet
Antonio Sanchez, drums
Ben Williams, bass
With Pat Metheny, you simply never know what is coming next. But among the many things that make this ever-changing artist so special is the consistent level of commitment and quality that he brings to everything he does. For the first time in more than 30 years, Metheny features a tenor saxophone in the front line. The last, in fact the only, previous Metheny-led record to feature a horn player was the iconic and influential ECM recording 80/81. The Unity Band introduces a new Metheny ensemble of the same name with the amazing Chris Potter on sax and bass clarinet, longtime collaborator Antonio Sanchez on drums, and the up-and-coming Ben Williams on bass. The group's new album features nine new Metheny compositions. Says the guitarist: "This is a group of musicians who can do just about anything."
After letting such a long time pass since the making of 80/81, what got Metheny to the point of wanting to return to a tenor and guitar combination? "Simple. Chris Potter!" he says. "I just can't say enough about Chris. There are so many levels of excellence going on there. His versatility is staggering, he gets a great sound on all the instruments in all registers. But his ideas and execution and flow as an improviser is really at a level that I have rarely seen before ... He is one of the greatest musicians I have ever been around."
If that pairing was the genesis of the idea, how did the rest of the band come together? On drums, "Antonio was kind of an obvious choice; he has been one of my closest associates over the past 10 years and has also played a lot with Chris," says Metheny. "There was a certain kind of power I knew that Chris and I would be getting to, and I can't think of anyone who could take us to that place better than Antonio."
And what led the guitarist to bassist Ben Williams? "I used Ben a few times to sub for Christian with the trio and found him to be a great playing partner and a great person too," says Metheny. "He and Antonio had an instantly effortless rapport. Ben has a fearless and open-minded approach to what music can be, which made him perfect for this band."
Metheny reflects on the name of this incredible group of music-makers. "The undercurrent of my musical life has always been one of reconciliation and unification of all the sounds and ideas that I love as one big singular thing. This band is a real manifestation of that spirit. We are using all of the unique qualities available to us as individuals and as an ensemble and, we hope, creating a greater whole to make something true to itself."
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