The Mahaffey Theater welcomes the Pat Metheny Unity Group Feb. 9.
ST. PETERSBURG – The 20-time Grammy award winner Pat Metheny brings his Unity Group to the Tampa Bay area for a one-night special performance set for Sunday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m., at The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg.
Metheny’s body of work includes compositions for solo guitar, electric and acoustic instruments, large orchestras and ballet pieces with settings ranging from modern jazz to rock to classical. Pat Metheny, Ben Williams, Chris Potter, Giulio Carmassi and Antonio Sanchez are the Pat Metheny Unity Group.
The Pat Metheny Unity Group is an extension of Metheny’s Unity Band project. In 2012, he partnered with Sanchez (drums), Williams (bass) and Potter (saxophone) as a quartet. The group toured Europe and the United States. In 2013, Metheny sought to capitalize on the band’s success and officially announced the formal formation of the Pat Metheny Unity Group.
“The Unity Band project was life-changing for me” said guitarist Pat Metheny in a press release Ted Kurland Associates. “I have led many groups of talented musicians, but what went down with that band on a night-after-night basis was inspiring in a way that was really unlike anything else. When we did our last gig, as we walked off the stage all I could think about was that I didn’t want it to end, and I knew it was the same for Chris, Antonio and Ben, too.”
Metheny also announced an anticipated album and world tour.
“For the past few months, I have been trying to find a way to extend our time together,” Metheny said. “At the same time, I have been feeling the pull to do the kind of lush and harmonically dense music with lots more written material that has always been a big part of my larger groups and projects. One night I woke up with the tantalizing idea of really taking ‘Unity’ concept all the way and forming a platform for the first time that could cover the entire spectrum of things that I have done as a bandleader over the years under one roof. With this lineup, everything from ‘Bright Size Life’ to ‘Secret Story’ to all of my Group stuff to ‘Song X’ could be within range – and more.”
With the new incarnation of the project, a new face joined the lineup.
“An incredible musician appeared on my radar thanks to a recommendation from my friend, bassist Will Lee,” Metheny said. “His name is Giulio Carmassi. He comes from Italy and I guess you could say that he is a ‘multi-instrumentalist’, but that barely scratches the surface of what he does.”
Carmassi is a piano and keyboard player, and also plays woodwinds and brass, guitars, bass, drums – and, according to Metheny, he “sings like an angel.”
“He told me he was inspired by seeing one of my bands perform in Italy when he was young and often thought about having the multi-instrumentalist seat on one of my projects,” Metheny said. “With Guilio added to the core … just about anything will be possible.”
The Pat Metheny Unity Group released the new album “Kin” Feb. 4.
According to the biography provided by Ted Kurland Associates, Metheny was born in Lee's Summit, Mo., in 1954, into a musical family.
He began playing trumpet at age 8, and, at age 12, he switched to guitar. By his mid-teens, Metheny was playing regularly with some of the best jazz musicians in Kansas City and, in return, earning priceless on-the-bandstand experience.
Metheny’s introduction to the international jazz scene came in 1974.
Over the course of his three-year stint with vibraphone great Gary Burton, Metheny displayed his soon-to-become trademarked playing style, which blended the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility.
His debut album soon followed: “Bright Size Life” (1975) helped re-imagine the traditional jazz guitar sound for a new generation of players. Metheny has continued to redefine the genre by utilizing new technology and constantly working to evolve the improvisational and sonic potential of his instrument.
Over the years, Metheny has won countless polls as Best Jazz Guitarist and plenty of awards, including three gold records for “Still Life (Talking),” “Letter from Home” and “Secret Story.” He has also won 18 Grammy Awards spread out over a variety of different categories including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, Best Instrumental Composition.
The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums.
Metheny has spent most of his life on tour, averaging between 120 and 240 shows a year since 1974.