Jul 28, 2021
If there is a jazz version of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it might well be Beneath Missouri Skies: Pat Metheny in Kansas City 1964-1972 by Carolyn Glenn Brewer. Ms. Brewer, a jazz musician, writer and former educator has a lifelong connection with the Greater Kansas City area. This makes her uniquely qualified to tell the story of a certain place and a certain time, and how the musicians and places where they played help the musical formation of Pat Metheny.
A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, just southeast of Kansas City, Metheny started playing in pizza parlors at age fourteen. By the time he graduated from high school he was the first-call guitarist for Kansas City jazz clubs, private clubs, and jazz festivals. Now 66, he attributes his early success to the local musical environment he was brought up in and the players and teachers who nurtured his talent and welcomed him into the jazz community.
Carolyn shows how his keen sense of ensemble had its genesis in his school band under the guidance of a beloved band director, Keith House and blossomed in community bands and jam sessions. Drawn from news accounts, archival material, interviews, and remembrances, to which the author had unique access, Beneath Missouri Skies allows us to debate the theory of nature versus nurture in the creation of a jazz legend.
Podcast 834 is my conversation with Carolyn Glenn Brewer, as we discuss the people and places so important to the formation of Metheny’s unique talents. As a tribute to his home state, we end the podcast with Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and Bob Moses performing “Missouri Uncompromised” from the classic Bright Size Life album, recorded just 3 1/2 years after Pat graduated from Lee’s Summit High School.