Pixel Tracker

Friday, December 14 , 2018, 7:46 am | Mostly Cloudy 48º


Jeff Moehlis: Jazz Guitarist Pat Metheny Shines in Return to Lobero

Partway through his return to the Lobero Theatre on Thursday night, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny called the venue "a special place for me," even alluding to a stop there as becoming, for him, the "definitive gig of the tour."

Metheny's enthusiasm for the Lobero was matched by the audience's enthusiasm for his 2½-hour dazzling and diverse display of guitar virtuosity, a tour de force of brilliant technique, versatility and overall musicality.

The concert began with a mesmerizing solo piece by Metheny on his 42-string Pikasso guitar, which is almost a cross between a guitar and a harp, showing us right away that it would be a special evening.

Then the rest of the Unity Band lineup came out, namely the incredible Chris Potter on saxophone and other woodwinds, Ben Williams on stand-up bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums. They played several pieces from their Grammy Award-winning Unity Band album, with Metheny switching between some fine guitars including his guitar synth. This set ended with "Police People" from Metheny's acclaimed album Song X, featuring a wonderful drum solo by Sanchez.

After this smokin' opening set, Metheny joked that "we've kind of been our own opening band tonight," then keyboard player Giuliana Carmassi joined in to fill out the Unity Group. This band started out with the piece "Kin (←→)", the title track to their great new album which sports a fuller, more composed sound.

Actually, here and for most of the rest of the evening the Unity Group was augmented by a collection of Metheny's Orchestrion instruments, which are custom-built machines in the spirit of a player piano that mechanically play real instruments such as a marimba, drums, and (my favorite) blown bottles.

Watching the instruments seemingly play themselves brought to mind those stories about the Lobero Theatre being haunted, but I digress ...

The Unity Group program included my favorite piece off the new album, On Day One, a long, sophisticated composition that to my ears has a rather nice Steve Reich influence. Metheny also did a series of duets with each of the bandmembers, all unique and all impressive.

Overall, the concert was a fitting reflection of Metheny's diverse career, with a stellar band that matched his amazing musicianship. Hopefully his next musical adventures will also find their way to the Lobero.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.