Pat Metheny’s Debut Album, 1976’s Bright Size Life, Sees ECM Luminessence Series 180g 1LP Reissue on August 2

The future is so bright, we gotta cue up some Pat Metheny vinyl, STAT. Well, ECM must have gotten wind of our wishes, for the renowned label has just announced it will reissue Metheny’s groundbreaking debut LP, March 1976’s Bright Size Life, on 180g vinyl on August 2, 2024, as part of their rightly vaunted Luminessence Series.

ECM directly, and exclusively, confirmed with AP that the Bright Size Life LP — as with all Luminessence Series reissues — was, quote, “cut from original analog masters, and there was no remastering.” (For more on what the Luminessence Series entails and how well some of its entries have fared on AP reviewer turntables, go here.)

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Metheny debuted at ECM as a member of vibraharpist Gary Burton’s band on the 1974 ECM LP credited to The Gary Burton Quintet With Eberhard Weber, Ring. In the liner notes to Bright Size Life, Burton wrote, “I personally feel this is a great record, and recommend it to everyone. It’s positive and hot and simply excellent.”

In the press release announcing this LP reissue, Bright Size Life — Metheny’s first studio recording as a bandleader — is described as “the album that decisively put him on the map as a bright new force, with something fresh to say in the context of contemporary jazz.”

Recorded at Tonstudio Bauer in Ludwigsburg, West Germany, in December 1975, and produced by ECM founder Manfred Eicher, Bright Size Life — which was released in March 1976 (ECM 1073) — featured Metheny’s regular touring band of the day, with Bob Moses on drums and the then relatively unknown Jaco Pastorius on bass. For his part, Metheny plays 6-string guitar and electric 12-string guitar on Bright Size Life.

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“I could happily play all the music from Bright Size Life right now,” Metheny said in an interview for the Library of Congress in 2021, which was also shared in the aforementioned official press release announcing this important reissue. “It still seems viable; the arguments there still seem valid and worth thinking about. . . . My sense at the time was that I wanted to make a record that might be the only record I would ever make. I hoped to make a statement on things that were important to me in terms of melody, harmony, trio playing, and even kind of life in general.”

Personally speaking, I think it’s fair to say that, on the cusp of celebrating his 70th birthday on August 12, Pat Metheny has made a lifetime’s worth of valid and worthwhile musical statements ever since that debut LP, as the consistently vibrant Bright Size Life clearly set the tone for what was to come. We here at AP very much look forward to both hearing and reviewing the new Life LP as soon as it arrives.

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180g 1LP (ECM)

Side 1
1. Bright Size Life
2. Sirabhorn
3. Unity Village
4. Missouri Uncompromised

Side 2
1. Midwestern Nights Dream
2. Unquity Road
3. Omaha Celebration
4. Round Trip/Broadway Blues

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rich d's picture

but it's summer! We need to start thinking about the appropriate soundtrack to baseball, beach and barbecue. I'm happy to start with three great tunes you probably don't have, but should:
Cast 'Fine Time'
Dodgy 'Staying Out for the Summer'
Close Lobsters 'Let's Make Some Plans'.
And while we're at it, shouldn't we acknowledge the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest years in music? What are your favorites from 1974? Again, I'll start: Kevin Ayers/John Cale/Eno/Nico 'June 1, 1974'.

Anyone else?

Mike Mettler's picture
Lotta great LPs released in 1974 ... let's see, off the top of my head, we've got Supertramp's Crime of the Century, both King Crimson's Starless and Bible Black *and* Red, David Bowie's Diamond Dogs, Bad Company's S/T debut Bad Company, Frank Zappa's Apostrophe ('), and an honorable mention to Billy Joel's Streetlife Serenade (the songwriting is most of the way there) and Rush's self-titled debut Rush with John Rutsey on drums, one album ahead of Neil Peart... They call me the Working Man, I guess thatr's what I am...
Tom L's picture

and have loved it ever since. Also got to see Metheny and band on the subsequent tour, the music was even more amazing live. What a talent.

Tom L's picture

...and it's terrific "summer music"!

rich d's picture

Kind of a New Chataqua guy myself, probably because I was at a very happy point in my then-young life when it came out.

Glotz's picture

Same here...

ForgetYourself's picture

I bought this in the 80's on CD and would love to have it on vinyl in my old age. But I don't see it posted anywhere for pre-order!

Tom L's picture

elsewhere soon, but I did find it at the website for $36.71.

brednjam1's picture

Has it ever been confirmed that all the titles in the series thus far were AAA? I’m particularly interested in hearing about Keith Jarrett’s Bremen and Lausanne three LP box set.

Tom L's picture

That's an incredible concert. I look forward to it as well.
I got to hear Jarrett that same year at my university. They had a nice Bosendorfer piano, had it tuned before the concert. Too bad they did it before moving the piano up to the next floor! Jarrett came out and announced that the piano was terribly out of tune, therefore he would tune it himself by ear and as a result there would be no encore. Just hearing him tune it was truly amazing. Then he left for a few minutes, returned and put on a show that left everyone stunned. It was mostly pastoral, with many repetitive passages that would suddenly expand into bursts of pure imagination. He paused for a minute before the last section, which actually served as the encore, and then cut loose with five minutes of loud, wild, crashing chordal playing that was like nothing I've heard before or since. I'll never forget it.