Personnel: Pat Metheny (electric & 12-string guitars); Jaco Pastorius (bass); Bob Moses (drums).
Recorded at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany in December 1975. Includes liner notes by Gary Burton.
BRIGHT SIZE LIFE, his first solo album, is an anomaly in the Pat Metheny discography. Rather than inaugurating a new era in his music, it celebrates the end of another. Of the eight superb arrangements that make up BRIGHT SIZE LIFE, only the gentle ballad "Unity Village" (an overdubbed duet between electric 6- and 12-string guitars) made it to the Pat Metheny Group repetoire. And yet, some 20 years after documenting the music of his first working group, BRIGHT SIZE LIFE endures as among the finest, freshest trio recordings in the history of jazz.
Metheny's enormous lyric gifts were first revealed during a two-year stint as the second guitarist (on electric 12-string, behind Mick Goodrick) in Gary Burton's group, where he developed a powerful rapport with drummer Bob Moses. And like Burton, Metheny's attraction to modern jazz was balanced by a deep feeling for all aspects of cultural Americana; thus, echoes of country music, Presbyterian hymn books and the blues resonate in the title tune and "Omaha Celebration."
But it is the near-telepathic empathy between Metheny and fretless bass guitar innovator Jaco Pastorious that defines the creative tension on BRIGHT SIZE LIFE. With powerhouse drummer Moses providing a fluid cymbal-inflected polyrhythmic underpinning, the yin and yang of these two string players meld into one greater voice. On "Missouri Uncompromised" and "Round Trip/Broadway Blues" their collective interplay at exuberant swing tempos is phenomenal, as Pastorious instinctively rounds out every Metheny phrase with elegant contrapuntal figures. Yet for all his melodic revelry, Pastorious and Moses never stop grooving or drop the tempo for a second, and Metheny responds with some remarkably modern guitar notions, equal parts Jim Hall and Ornette Coleman. Still, the trio's finest moments occur on the moody, rhapsodic "Midwestern Nights Dream," where Pastorious' gong-like melodies ring out over Metheny's tolling chords like some spectral spirit of lost youth.