Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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PAT METHENY/ORNETTE COLEMAN
Song X
Nonesuch

Two very different jazz heroes learn to get along brilliantly

In 1986, cool-lite guitarist Pat Metheny surprised his detractors not by hooking up with saxophonist Ornette Coleman but by inducing the free-jazz godfather to cut his jazziest album since the '60s--and by wailing some himself. That album occupies the final 49 minutes of this "twentieth-anniversary edition," and it still sounds great--the title tune as original as any of Coleman's earlier Atlantic tracks, the 13-minute "Endangered Species" an object lesson in freedom. But Metheny has another surprise in store: six bonus tracks that are actually bonuses. The blowing session "Police People" and the bebop "Word From Bird" are standouts. But all are strong enough to justify kicking off with them, and the perfect warm-up to an album Metheny was right to construct exactly as he did.

Blender, Sept. 2005