Quartet expands upon the extraordinary musical dialogue - or, as Amazon.com puts it, the "dream pairing" - begun by guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau on their 2006 collaboration, Metheny/Mehldau. This time they incorporate the members of Mehldau's trio, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, into a breathtakingly eclectic set, which ranges from the airy, pastoral "So Much Music Everywhere" to straight-up rocking in the slowly building "Towards The Light.'
New Age-leaning guitarist Pat Metheny and melancholic pianist Brad Mehldau have such distinctive, even rarified, sensibilities (each an acquired taste for some listeners), that their teaming may have looked like a one-time commercial ploy in the beginning. But having found rewarding common ground and a receptive audience through their shared love of pop, Brazilian music and Americana, they likely will work together again. Recorded at the same time as their first album, a duo effort, Quartet
takes a satisfying step forward in featuring the Mehldau trio's first-rate bass and drum team, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, on most of the tracks. Ranging from rhapsodic reflections to full-tilt fusion fare to loping, Wes Montgomery-inspired tunes--and let's not overlook that Asian-tinged song featuring Metheny on 42-string guitar--the music is sometimes a bit soft at the core. But when the stars are aligned, as on the effortlessly flowing, co-written opener, "A Night Away," and Metheny's charming "En La Tierra Que No Olvida," their partnership glows. It will be interesting to hear where they go from here. --Lloyd Sachs