Following his Grammy-winning 2001 solo acoustic record, Pat Metheny began regularly playing the specially tuned baritone guitar he used on that album in the breaks between sound check and the show when he was on the road. "Almost every day as I worked through one well-know tune or another, various visitors or local crew people would come up to me and ask which record it was on, and I would have to say that I had never made a record like that," Metheny says. "And over the years, I have had it in the back of my mind that I should do an album of some of those tunes at some point." The guitarist has done just that with "What's It All About" -- marking the first time there is not a single Metheny composition represented. He focuses on music from the Beatles, Paul Simon, Jobim, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini and others.
Tom Harrell can write music of such melodic grace and melodic beauty that it can bring tears to one's eyes. Even his complex, up-tempo pieces retain singable ideas and attractive harmonies that are challenging without sounding pedantic. On his new CD -- "The Time of the Sun" -- Harrell and his quintet once again reaffirm their place at the top of the post-bop mainstream. Of course, Harrell's often beautiful, always rigorous solos are to the fore but Wayne Escoffery's tenor certainly plays no second fiddle here. Whether it be on ballads or driving pieces, the group's expositions, interactions and song development are exuberant and extensive, devoid of gimmicks, and are delivered in an energetic yet disciplined and sophisticated manner.