Beneath Missouri Skies
The New Yorker recently referred to Pat Metheny as “possibly the most
influential jazz guitarist of the past five decades.” 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
Metheny’s twenty Grammys in ten categories speak to his versatility and
popularity. Despite five decades of interviews, none have conveyed in
detail his stories about his teenage years. Beneath Missouri Skies also
reveals important details about jazz in Kansas City during the sixties
and early seventies, often overlooked in histories of Kansas City jazz.
Yet this time of cultural change was characterized by an outstanding
level of musicianship.
Author Carolyn Glenn Brewer shows how his keen sense of ensemble had its
genesis in his school band under the guidance of a beloved band
director. Drawn from news accounts, archival material, interviews, and
remembrances, to which the author had unique access, Beneath Missouri
Skies portrays a place and time from which Metheny still draws
inspiration and strength.
“Brewer presents a very detailed yet balanced view of Metheny’s musical
growth, and the KC area musicians that were part of that development.
That approach gives the reader an insight into the overall KC jazz
scene at the time.”—Terry Perkins, reviewer for Downbeat magazine