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ALBUM REVIEWS

Pat Metheny

"What It's All About''

By Bill Beuttler
Globe Correspondent / June 14, 2011

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The pensive new release from Pat Metheny is his first containing none of his own compositions. Instead, he offers solo acoustic explorations of 10 pop hits of his youth, most performed on his custom baritone guitar. Two already have jazz associations: Sonny Rollins’s “Alfie’s Theme’’ having been done for the 1966 film starring Michael Caine as the Burt Bacharach/Hal David-penned song “Alfie’’ that Metheny tackles here, and Stan Getz having joined Astrud and João Gilberto for a hit 1964 version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Garota de Ipanema.’’ Others are more surprising choices, having been popularized by the Carpenters (“Rainy Days and Mondays’’), the Association (“Cherish’’), the Stylistics (“Betcha by Golly, Wow’’), Carly Simon (“That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be’’), Henry Mancini (“Slow Hot Wind’’), and the Chantays (“Pipeline’’). Metheny switches to conventional steel six-string for “Pipeline,’’ to custom 42-string for Paul Simon’s “The Sound of Silence,’’ and to nylon six-string for the Beatles’ “And I Love Her.’’ Metheny transforms balladic pop tunes into abnormally sophisticated easy listening. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “Alfie’’

Pat Metheny performs at the Somerville Theatre on Oct. 9.