Pat Metheny - Tap: The Book Of Angels Volume 20 (2 stars)

An album which encompasses several facets of Metheny's musical personality but fails to impress

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Pat Metheny - Tap: The Book Of Angels Volume 20

(Nonesuch/Tzadik)

Not just a poodle-haired purveyor of pastel fusion, guitar virtuoso Pat Metheny has also worked with Ornette Coleman and Steve Reich, and sent his yuppie fans fleeing with the metallic noodlings of Zero Tolerance for Silence and the Derek Bailey-aided free-improv stramash, The Sign of Four.

This dive into the voluminous Masada songbook of avant-garde composer John Zorn encompasses several facets of Metheny's musical personality. The opening 'Mastema' sees Metheny essaying a milder version of the skewed stunt-metal wails Bill Frisell brought to Zorn's avant-garde band Naked City. But the arrangement is largely built on intricate matrices of crystalline guitar, oleaginous fretless bass and Metheny's trademark guitar-synth: ick.

When Metheny eschews the synth pads and naff guitar effects for a jazzier acoustic approach, Zorn's affecting Sephardic melodies shine through. While there are digressions into tricksy post-bop and abstract sonics, Metheny's glossy makeover is weak sauce next to Zorn’s other group, Masada.

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