Grammy winner Pat Metheny talks about new album and its influence

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Pat Metheny's music is so diverse that he is the only artist ever to have won a dozen Grammy Awards in a dozen different categories, and his latest record features some of New York City's most talented young musicians.

"Side-Eye NYC (V1.IV)," recorded just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, has the familiar initials of his adopted hometown right there in the title.

It also features players who have caught his eye and his ear.

Metheny's guitar playing is so distinctive you only have to listen for a few seconds to realize he's the guy strumming.

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What he plays could be called jazz, new age, or even classical -- depending on what he's into at the time.

The unique artist has always refused to be confined by categories.

"My sense of what music is evolving," he said.

It's an evolution that has continued for half a century now.

"I still function mostly as a fan of the music," he said. "I follow very closely who's new in town on which instruments and all that."

You could call him a bridge between genres and generations, but he's also a musician and a mentor.

"I was the beneficiary of that myself," he said. "I started playing as a teenager around Kansas City with older musicians who welcomed me onto the bandstand."

The best jazz musicians have been coming to New York City for more than 100 years, and Metheny wanted to continue that tradition.

"We are in a really golden period right now of young musicians coming to New York who can really play, so I kind of wanted to come up with a setting where I could invite those guys in," he said. "I invite them up to my house all the time, and we play."

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Metheny has played often with Marcus Gilmore, the grandson of legendary drummer Roy Haynes, and on the new record, the guitarist works with musicians decades younger than himself.

"I will never hire anybody who I'm not going to learn stuff from, ever," he said.

In so doing, he follows the advice of the late Hank Williams, who often urged folks to, "Never get so old you forget to grow young."

Metheny's music has helped me weather the storms of my life and celebrate my brightest days.

One of his old tracks, "Last Train Home," has given me hope in good times and bad.

How wonderful, then, to discover an artist you have admired for so long is also good company -- and a great guy.

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