Old Wine/New Bossa: Selected Tracks EPK
Most compilations are intended to serve as overviews of artists' careers. Old Wine/New Bossa: Selected Tracks, a handpicked selection of Mike Metheny's post-major label works, does something entirely different. The album seems like an attempt to reposition Metheny. It's a set of mood music of the highest order. Strange but entirely compelling, most of the album's dozen tracks are designed for sensual seduction.
The offbeat sensibility isn't limited to Metheny's tendency to use flugelhorn and EVI rather than trumpet. Metheny's version of "How Insensitive" is typical. Although he's backed by four of Kansas City's best straight ahead jazz players- Rod Fleeman, Paul Smith, Gerald Spaits and Tommy Ruskin- the track is more Mantovani than Roy Hargrove. Throughout Old Bossa/New Wine: Selected Tracks Metheny repurposes easy listening music, transforming vacant aural landscapes into sleek, sophisticated works of art.
There are a few exceptions. "Are You Real?" is a conventional jazz number. Tellingly, it's the album's least interesting track. "Manitowoc" represents its polar extreme. It sounds like the work of a lobotomized Valium addict. Even if the composition is Metheny's idea of a joke, it's still really creepy. "Manitowoc" is followed by "Deceptive Resolution," another synthetic tone poem that emphasizes Metheny's weird aesthetic. His jazz chops may be impeccable, but the new collection reveals that he's an intellectual outsider in the tradition of Martin Denny, Donald Fagen and Charlie Haden.
Old Wine/New Bossa: Selected Tracks isn't a proper jazz album- and it's all the better for its deliberate eccentricity.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)