The guitarist Pat Metheny plays a lot. Loads of shows. Loads of recordings. He released two records in 2016, and his calendar is already pretty booked up for the first part of 2017.
That restlessness speaks to how serious Metheny takes his musical focus. Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Metheny's solo debut, and he's been releasing about one record a year, sometimes two, since. For Metheny music is a mode of exploration. He's played with iconic improvisers and composers like Ornette Coleman, and he's invented his own automated instruments and experimented with guitar synthesizers. He's championed and recorded the work of minimalist composers like Steve Reich.
Metheny is a believer in the jazz tradition and a non-stop innovator as well. He's committed to musical communication. His tone is clean and pure. He can make warm chord solos or kinetic single-line dashes. He can sound folky or atmospheric, or his guitar can sound like a trumpet. When inclined he can improvise something that sounds like Renaissance music configured for guitar.
Metheny is that rare virtuoso whose mastery of the instrument has allowed him to recede into airy clouds at times.
Pat Metheny plays with Antonio Sanchez, Gwilym Simcock and Lindo Oh at The Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge, on Friday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $87.50. ridgefieldplayhouse.org