New on Spectrum Culture, I review Pat Metheny's musical science experiment called the Orchestrion Project:
Nineteen-time Grammy-winning jazz guitarist Pat Metheny has always been at the forefront of using cutting-edge technology and unconventional instruments in his music. Take his 2003 album One Quiet Night, for instance, one recorded almost entirely on the acoustic baritone guitar, an instrument not heard often in jazz (or for that matter, in music of any type). Metheny, ever the innovator, has been working with a team of engineers the last three years or so on an experiment of sorts called the Orchestrion, an assortment of instruments–pianos, drum kits, marimbas, bells and even bottles tuned to various pitches—controlled by computer and capable of responding to the touch of Metheny’s hands on his specially-configured guitar. After releasing the studio record Orchestrion in 2010, the guitarist, with a team of technicians in tow, took his “machine” on a world tour. The Orchestrion Project, a double-disc set, was recorded in Brooklyn at the end of the tour without a live audience as document of the unique musical experience.
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