In 2010, 19-time Grammy Award winner Pat Metheny took his musical exploration to a new territory with his Orchestrion, a computer controlled mini-orchestra capable of responding to his touch on guitar. After releasing the Orchestrion record, Metheny and his "band" hit the road, playing over 100 concerts around the world, culminating with the recording of The Orchestrion Project in Brooklyn, NY. This recording showcases the full evolution of the Orchestrion as documented at the tail end of a sprawling world tour. The double-disc set features all five sections of Orchestrion "a soaring five-movement suite featuring some of the most intricate music he's ever created" (Boston Globe) plus eight additional Metheny compositions reimagined with the Orchestrion.
The Orchestrion itself is an assemblage of computer-operated acoustic instruments, all controlled by Metheny's guitar. The full instrumental array includes several pianos, drum kits, marimbas, "guitar-bots, " dozens of percussion instruments and even cabinets of carefully tuned bottles. Through Metheny's guitar, the instruments are struck, plucked, and otherwise played via the technology of solenoid switches and pneumatics. Metheny worked for months with a brilliant team of scientists and engineers to develop and assemble the Orchestrion.
The Orchestrion album and tour received critical praise, with Jazz Times saying, "Mallets, bells, bottles, piano, cymbals and incidental percussion held forth in a spectacle of dissonance and extraordinary color, sounding like Metheny meets Boulez. " And NPR Music said, "No matter who or what he has on stage with him, Pat Metheny plays music as if at the end of the show he would be prevented from doing so for the rest of his life. He makes every note matter, and infuses each with so much emotion that it's very hard not to get swept up in the moment...he always looks like he's having as much fun playing as we are listening. His tour with the Orchestrion will likely be talked about for quite a while. "