In 1985, Metheny teamed up with free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman for the startling Song X. A decade later he recorded the offbeat, noise-drenched solo record Zero Tolerance for Silence, arguably the most bizarre tangent a pop-jazz star has ever inflicted upon an established fan base. Then last year, while feeding his loyal followers Beyond the Missouri Sky and Imaginary Day -- serene duets with bassist Charlie Haden and breezy Metheny-Mays ear candy, respectively -- he paired up with U.K. guitarist and avant-garde visionary Derek Bailey for The Sign of 4, a three-disc explosion of corrosive colors and textures that chiseled his monolithic jazz-lite image into a jagged mass of abstract beauty.
Metheny's muse roams wild across a massive stylistic range, and that, understandably, irks jazzheads. But unlike most commercial success stories, this guitarist's mettle is without question.
-- Sam Prestianni
The Pat Metheny Group perform on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 14 and 15, at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market (at Sixth Street). Tickets are $29-36; call 775-7722.