With his trademark mane of hair and uncanny fretwork on the ax, Pat Metheny is a throwback to the days when being a Guitar God meant something. Whole squadrons of Guitar Player and Downbeat magazine readers swore by his virtuosity in the 1980s. In the 1990s Metheny cemented his ongoing popularity by reeling in several Grammys. His partisans hold that Metheny changed jazz guitar as we know it, which is not too shabby for a boy from Lee's Summit, Missouri.
By now Metheny's legend is close to set in stone: He started his career as an electric guitar prodigy. As a teenager Metheny rocketed out of Missouri and onto the teaching faculties at the University of Miami and then the Berklee College of Music. His style caught fire with audiences early on, and he frequently performed with vibe man Gary Burton. Metheny never looked back, recording with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Joni Mitchell, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Herbie Hancock and David Bowie.
The signature, atmospheric Metheny sound is not a traditional jazz sound: Metheny likes to bend genres, to mix and match fusion, folk, jazz, and Latin styles. Still, his albums chart like nobody's business precisely because he has that penchant for invention. Not content with six-string guitar, he honed his chops on a twelve-string. And for years he managed to get mileage out of the synthesizer guitar, and these days he occasionally plies his trade on a 42-string monster.
And although it draws fans from around the world, Metheny's music never strays too far from home. He has penned tunes such as "Ozark," "A Midwestern Night's Dream" and "Missouri Uncompromised." In 1997, Metheny took home another Grammy for his outing with jazz bassist extraordinaire Charlie Haden, entitled Beyond The Missouri Sky.
For his gig at the Sheldon (3648 Washington Boulevard, 314-533-9900), Metheny will treat the audience to his new working trio featuring Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez. McBride is one the most talented bassists gigging today and a master of the groove. (Just listen to him laying down the funk on Rope-a-Dope Records' The Philadelphia Experiment.) Mainstream music lovers may also recognize McBride from his session work with Sting. Antonio Sanchez knows his way around the drums and keeps the beat steady. Metheny will also do a solo turn on stage to let his fans see that his creativity is still uncompromised. Tickets are $45-$50, and the show starts at 8 p.m. -- Neal Sokol
Musical drives man up wall
Donald O'Connor, R.I.P., was probably best known for a single dance performed in the movie-musical Singin' in the Rain. In the "Make 'Em Laugh" number, he moves with amazing speed and executes some very clever moves, but the most memorable moment comes when he manages to run up a wall, 30 years before Jackie Chan made it memorable again. Now Twyla Tharp has applied her ultra-athletic choreography to a stage version of the film, and Singin' in the Rain pulls into the Florissant Civic Center (Parker Road at Waterford Drive, 8 p.m., $20-$22, 314-921-5678). Watch for the titular Gene Kelly number, accomplished with a "rain machine." -- Byron Kerman
Love, South American Style
Grupo Corpo Brazilian Dance Theatre equals "spicy South American sizzle." The loose-limbed, Afro-Brazilian dance company mixes folk, ballet, modern and jazz styles at 8 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Avenue, Friday, October 17, and Saturday, October 18. Tantalizing found-object percussion beats join Brazilian folk, social and street dance in "21," and the finale boasts a wild explosion of gyrating torsos and hips in zany folk-mod costumes. "Benguele" explores Brazil's Spanish, Portuguese and African dance roots. Amid songs, chants and folk music, the dancers embody the vigorous capoeira, the spicy flamenco and the pulsing tribal walk. For tickets ($20-$49), call Dance St. Louis at 314-534-6622 (or visit www.dancestlouis.org.), or call MetroTix at 314-534-1111. -- Regina Popper
Unsane, the prototypical New York metal-core band, is back on the road. Hot on the heels of their reunion tour visit earlier this year, the noisy lads return to the Creepy Crawl (412 North Tucker Boulevard, 314-851-0919) tonight to remind everyone why they're legendary. We'll give you some hints: skull-melting volume, the anvil-dropped-on-your-chest backbeat and the serrated guitar slashing of Chris Spencer. Tickets are $10-$12, doors open at 8 p.m., and the ensuing tinnitus is free of charge. -- Paul Friswold