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He was kind enough to interrupt some down time by talking guitar perhaps more extensively than he ever has, and he allowed VG to shoot some of the more distinctive pieces in his extensive guitar collection.

(LEFT) Metheny says this ’56 Gretsch 6120 was, “The first electric guitar I ever laid eyes on.” (RIGHT) This 1980 Roland G-303 synth guitar has a custom vibrato.

His rapport with Mays brings to mind Jim Hall’s collaborations with Bill Evans, except that Hall and Evans didn’t play thousands of live gigs together.

Metheny, born in August of 1954, represented a truly new, unmistakable, individual voice in jazz guitar – on electric and acoustic, as well as being somewhat of a pioneer of the guitar synth.

It’s a really great community that I feel lucky to be a part of.” And in 2013, Metheny became only the fourth guitarist to be inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame – the other three being Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, and Wes Montgomery.

Metheny’s most recent release is the DVD The Unity Sessions, with his Unity Band members – bassist Ben Williams, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and saxophonist Chris Potter – augmented by Giulio Carmassi on piano, flugelhorn, and vocals.

Ridiculously prolific, he has released approximately 45 albums under his own name, and who knows how many splinter groups and appearances he’s made on other artists’ projects.

But far from resting on his laurels, and hefty record sales, he hasn’t shied away from taking chances – the most obvious being 1994’s Zero Tolerance For Silence, the melodic master’s about-face into an all-guitar orgy of improvised dissonance recorded in one day. The 2012 CD and film were Metheny’s modernized version of the coin-operated, human-less music machines of yesteryear.

“It’s a way to have a very powerful sound that’s not a distorted sound,” said Metheny. You’ve referred to the guitar as a “tool.” I’m a proud guitar player, and I know stuff about the instrument.

But it’s always been a translation device to get ideas out.

“If you look at the very long list of people I’ve had associations with, it’s also a list of my favorite musicians,” he smiles.

“Not only have I gotten to play with them a lot, we’re all very close.

But two albums later, The Pat Metheny Group landed the guitarist on the covers of Downbeat and Musician.

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