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The Orchestrion Project (2CD)


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Audio CD, February 12, 2013
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 12, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B008HFWF3U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,457 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Improvisation #1
2. Antonia
3. Entry Point
4. Expansion
5. Improvisation #2
6. 80/81-Broadway Blues
7. Orchestrion
Disc: 2
1. Soul Search
2. Spirit of the Air
3. Stranger in Town
4. Sueno con Mexico
5. Tell Her You Saw Me
6. Unity Village

Editorial Reviews

In 2010, 19-time Grammy Award winner Pat Metheny took his musical exploration to a new territory with his Orchestrion, a computer controlled mini-orchestra capable of responding to his touch on guitar. After releasing the Orchestrion record, Metheny and his "band" hit the road, playing over 100 concerts around the world, culminating with the recording of The Orchestrion Project in Brooklyn, NY. This recording showcases the full evolution of the Orchestrion as documented at the tail end of a sprawling world tour. The double-disc set features all five sections of Orchestrion "a soaring five-movement suite featuring some of the most intricate music he's ever created" (Boston Globe) plus eight additional Metheny compositions reimagined with the Orchestrion.

The Orchestrion itself is an assemblage of computer-operated acoustic instruments, all controlled by Metheny's guitar. The full instrumental array includes several pianos, drum kits, marimbas, "guitar-bots, " dozens of percussion instruments and even cabinets of carefully tuned bottles. Through Metheny's guitar, the instruments are struck, plucked, and otherwise played via the technology of solenoid switches and pneumatics. Metheny worked for months with a brilliant team of scientists and engineers to develop and assemble the Orchestrion.

The Orchestrion album and tour received critical praise, with Jazz Times saying, "Mallets, bells, bottles, piano, cymbals and incidental percussion held forth in a spectacle of dissonance and extraordinary color, sounding like Metheny meets Boulez. " And NPR Music said, "No matter who or what he has on stage with him, Pat Metheny plays music as if at the end of the show he would be prevented from doing so for the rest of his life. He makes every note matter, and infuses each with so much emotion that it's very hard not to get swept up in the moment...he always looks like he's having as much fun playing as we are listening. His tour with the Orchestrion will likely be talked about for quite a while. "

Customer Reviews

The music seems less arranged and more spontaneous.
John R. Grimshaw
PM releases are ALWAYS good... Not THE one to buy if you are not already a fan, but if you are a fan, a must additional chapter in the ongoing book of PM music.
Mr. John J. Johnson
It has got to be the best example of this artist at his PRIME!
Paul Spohn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John R. Grimshaw on April 25, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first Orchestrion cd was before the tour. Not that there was anything wrong with that music, but it's obvious on this cd that Pat became comfortable with the Orchestrion as an instrument. The music seems less arranged and more spontaneous. The solos are better and he develops them more deeply with the tunes themselves.

Occasionally, you will see Pat's music in the "light jazz" bins. I can understand that, because I think much of Pat's music is more accessible to the masses, but it's also pleasing to those folks who are looking for excellent compositions, great depth of development in the music and of course excellent musicianship. All this combined with a great sound on all the instruments and an artistic investment of himself into the music, makes all of Pat's music excellent.

I'm sure that some people viewed this instrument of Pat's as a novelty. In someone else's hands perhaps, but no so here, and the additiion of some tunes that were not originally written for the Orchestrion is wonderful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Fong on May 8, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As with any work by Pat Metheny, I enjoyed a few tracks initially, and expect a bunch of others to grow on me over time. There are a lot of enjoyable new arrangements (re-interpretations) of some of his older works. A number of tracks don't really make full use of his orchestrion setup (e.g. Unity Village is wonderful 'solo' work, but there is a simple tamborine that acted as a loud metronome...some might think it distracts because it is so mechanical); however, this might have been Pat's intention to showcase the kit in both simple and complex applications. BTW, I really like his layered guitar sampling in Unity Village.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. John J. Johnson on April 9, 2013
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PM releases are ALWAYS good... Not THE one to buy if you are not already a fan, but if you are a fan, a must additional chapter in the ongoing book of PM music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Whistler VINE VOICE on June 18, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having owned the DVD for a while, I put off buying this as I sort of already had the music in a fine surround mix. But I had heard the stereo version was worth hearing and I'm so glad I bought it. First of all, since this was recorded after Metheny had toured the project, so he had the chance to live with these tunes, the result being his improvisations are much more fully developed.

I suspect he also tweaked the arrangements a bit, but it's hard to tell because this mix is so much clearer than the 1st album. You can hear the layered percussion in better detail and somehow, whereas the 1st album felt somewhat attenuated dynamically, this album seems to have more dynamic depth. I am wondering if over time, Metheny found ways to optimize the robotic orchestra and milk some more dynamics out of it. In general the music seems to breathe a little more.

The other good news is the inclusion of the two improvisations. Improvisation 1 is relatively simple, a setting of mostly guitar and a single tambourine, similar to how he opened his live shows before the curtain dramatically opened to reveal the entire rig. The 2nd improvisation is similar to what he was doing on the road, a minimalist modal thing that with the addition of more and more layers, finally opens up into a grand guitar solo and then comes down dramatically to a few bells, cymbals, marimba and a (rarely used here) synth pad. It works really well.

Due to a fortuitous sequencing accident that put all the material in alphabetical order, (which Merheny eventually came to love,) the Orchestrion suite is spread out here, interspersed with reimagined arrangements of older tunes and the aforementioned improvisations. The "accidental" order works really well- the whole album feels of a piece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rito on March 21, 2013
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Really wonderful to hear Pat on the Orchestrion Project,the 2 CD album even surpasses the quality of the earlier one.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Bryan on March 3, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The highlight of the Orchestrion concert in Oslo, was when, after PM played a tune or two with just a couple of automatic instruments, they pulled the curtains and revealed a large symphony orchestra with not a single musician except for Mr Metheny himself. I've been a devoted fan of Pat since he played with Gary Burton in Molde 1975, and I think the Orchestrion Project offers an excellent, and very special experience, but - for listening to his music on CD's I prefer small combos - my favorite being Quartet Live.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DJP on March 18, 2013
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While clearly a tremendous technical achievement, this 2CD set is at the same time ranging and intimate in its expression - both explosive and contemplative. I love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Kroczynski on June 30, 2013
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A great sound and look for some old favorites. Also some good songs I had not heard before. A good purchase.
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