Pat Metheny is one of the most widely imitated guitarists in modern jazz. A prodigy on guitar, he played in jazz clubs before he could even drive to the gigs and became one of the youngest teachers ever at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston. Because of that early fame, he has had the freedom to record extensively, with near-annual releases since his debut in 1975. These recordings have teetered between two styles: serious guitar workouts in the tradition of masters (with nods to modal jazz) and fusionesque jazz built on rocklike rhythms and electronic orchestration. Unfortunately, he is more widely known for the latter.

His latest release, “One Quiet Night,” is something new altogether. As he says in the liner notes, he stayed at home, turned on the tape machine and played. The result is a solo acoustic recording that is calm, introspective and accomplished. Working with timbres, textures and acoustic-style fingering rather than fast-paced dynamics, he plays mindfully and precisely. Normally, Metheny is quite fleet-fingered. Whether undulating through an Ornette Coleman melody or romping over a blues-rock beat, he rarely leaves space between notes. Here, though, each note is poised in the air. Even when he strums on several numbers, the important bass- and melody-line notes linger distinctly.

On every song, he works fully “within” the instrument, using the harmonics and overtones of his specially handmade baritone guitar for a fuller sound. The attention to the nuance of acoustic sounds is quite a departure from the way he often has used technology to project his sound in a louder, stagier way. The slower pace and smaller scale also brings out an organic flow. His improvisations move naturally, to an internal rhythm, with time to add complex chords and unusual harmonies around the simple melodies. The feeling is almost folk at times, at others almost classical.

Guitar freaks will no doubt pore over the details of the tuning (“Nashville” style ADGCEA), stringing (5th and 6th moved lower and 3rd and 4th up an octave), and the custom-made instrument itself (made by Canadian luthier Linda Manzer), while longtime fans will surely be impressed with the challenge Metheny has set for himself. At the end of the day, though, any listener can appreciate the contemplation and mastery that has shaped the delicate essence of each and every tune.

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