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Pat Metheny keeps his unity band...well, unified

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Pat Metheny's shown a predilection to jump from project to project during his lauded 40-year-plus career. But the master guitarist enjoyed his Unity Band so much that he decided to keep it, well, united for awhile longer -- albeit now as the Unity Group..

"It was such a fun year when we went on the road, and it was a real success, too," Metheny, 59, says of the initial United Band outing, whose self-titled album which won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. "We did 100 gigs, and as the tour was doing the countdown towards the end, we were like, 'Man, this is gonna be over. That's so sad.' And we agreed at the end, 'Let's keep going. Let's do it again.'

"For me it's a real compliment -- especially with Chris (Potter, saxophonist), 'cause he's got so much going on and is in such demand. For him to be up for another year of this, I was really touched by that."

That said, Metheny is not one to repeat himself. So the Unity Band became the Unity Group with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi, and its new album, "Kin (<--->)," is no mere rehash of "Unity Band" -- by design.

"I thought, 'OK, if we're gonna do this again, rather than do that same record again -- which is what most people do when they do a successful thing -- what else can we do?' " Metheny explains. "The result is what you hear. I think they're very different kinds of records. By adding one more musician there's a much broader palette of things and a very different kind of writing.

"The 'Unity Band' record was about the classic setting up of form and structure and improvising on that form. ('Kin') is more like the kind of stuff I do with my regular band and other projects; there's mandate to use improvisation to move the piece along, so you're not necessarily playing on just the form of the song. So it's a very different form of composition than on 'Unity Band,' and therefore a very different kind of album -- but just as interesting, I hope."

The Pat Metheny Unity Group performs at 8 p.m. Monday, March 10, at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $49.50 and $39.50. Call 734-668-8463 or visit www.michtheater.org.

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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