I'm wary of ad hoc superstar marriages and all-star summit meetings; however, I'm enchanted by the recent pairing of guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau.

Sponsored
The Prom, playing May 31st-June 19th at The 5th Avenue Theatre
The Prom is a musical comedy about big Broadway stars on a mission to change the world.

On Metheny Mehldau (Nonesuch) and the just released Metheny Mehldau Quartet (Nonesuch), a conjoined telepathy takes hold, one reminiscent of the now-ancient Keynote recordings of pianist Lennie Tristano and guitarist Billy Bauer. On recordings, both pairs of collaborators display an intuitive sense of time and can duet contrapuntally, allowing hard-edged licks and chords to jut out without smothering each other.

Mehldau, who played a memorable solo set at the Earshot Jazz Festival in 2004, continues to astound me. When comping behind Metheny on "Ahmid-6," his discreetly chiming chords later germinate into an astonishing solo filled with hard-hitting funky runs and sequences.

And though I sometimes bemoan the excessive slickness of Metheny—the grinning guitarist mucked up Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint at Carnegie Hall last October—here, Metheny mostly sticks to what he does best: precise picking, tenderly bent notes, and creating space for his fellow musicians. His delicious tone ranges from the classic hollow-body electric-guitar sound to a delicate, slightly electrified harp. I also like the tingling dulcimerlike strums on "The Sound of Water."

There are a few missteps. While I was awed by Mehldau's asymmetric left-hand comping on "Ring of Life," Metheny takes a second solo on his guitar synth, dialing up a patch that resembles the stinging tone of Allan Holdsworth unpardonably dulled by deeply inserted earplugs.

For this concert, as on both discs, the remaining two-thirds of Mehldau's stellar trio, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, join the fray. Grenadier is often felt rather than heard; Ballard's drumming crackles with frenetic energy, keeping the fire burning under both Mehldau and Metheny.

Concerts

THURSDAY MARCH 29

PONCHO SANCHEZ LATIN JAZZ BAND
For top-notch Latin jazz, look no further than Poncho Sanchez. His group boasts tight charts, fine soloists, precise ensemble work, all without the overly tidy production that occasionally mars his albums. Through Sun April 1. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 and 9:30 pm, $26.50.

FRIDAY MARCH 30

DRUM ENCHANTED EVENING
Forget the cute, ill-advised title. Seattle Regional Taiko Group presents a triple bill of taiko ensembles including One World Taiko and Inochi Taiko as well as Stanford Taiko, who trek up from California. Used in battle centuries ago to intimidate the enemy, taiko drums—think of giant wine barrels turned on their sides—whip up an unforgettable percussive thunder. Recital Hall at Benaroya, 200 University St, 292-2787, 8 pm, $10/$15.

SATURDAY MARCH 31

TOM BAKER QUARTET
I caught the CD-release party for TBQ's new disc, Look What I Found (Present Sounds), in January and savored this group immensely. Baker and his confreres fuse the dissonant feints of the avant-garde with the rhythmic energy and unpredictable dialogue found in freely improvised music. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave E, 322-1533, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding-scale donation.

TUDOR CHOIR
This mellifluous choral group sings Gregorio Allegri's Miserere; in the bad old days, any performance of the work outside the Sistine Chapel would result in excommunication. Music by William Cornysh and Seattle composer Jeff Junkinsmith's Sancta Maria, mater Dei round out the program. Also Sun April 1 at 3 pm within the lush acoustic of the Bastyr University Chapel in Kenmore. St Mark's Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave E, 323-9415, 8 pm, $15—$25.

SUNDAY APRIL 1

SEATTLE PHILHARMONIC
In perhaps the oddest concert program so far this year, KING FM's Miss Marta joins the band to narrate Poulenc's The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant. Children can't resist this affectionate portrayal of the fabled elephant-king of Africa, yet the rest of the program—Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 (aka the "Eroica") and Walter Hartley's Concerto for 23 Winds—may be a mite too heavy for the tots. Meany Hall, UW Campus, 528-6878, 3 pm, $10/$18.

MONDAY APRIL 2

JIM KNAPP ORCHESTRA
Why have so many local top-drawer musicians gravitated into this jazz orchestra? Knapp's charts not only swing but offer alternate routes around the usual clichés of big-band jazz. With singer Whitney James, saxophonists Mark Taylor and James DeJoie, trumpeters Jay Thomas and Vern Sielert, pianist John Hansen, bassist Phil Sparks, Matt Jorgensen on drums, and others. Seattle Drum School, 12510 15th Ave NE, 364-8815, 8 pm, $5/$10.

TUESDAY APRIL 3

JOHN SCOFIELD TRIO
From coolly classic Wes Montgomery—esque pickin' to howling, tear-it-up fusion licks, Scofield can do it all. This guitarist, revitalized by his collaboration with Medeski, Martin, and Wood, couples faultless technique with an ineffable sense of swing. With the legendary Steve Swallow on bass and Scofield's longtime drummer Bill Stewart. Also Wed April 4. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, 7:30 pm, $24.50.

Sponsored
Day In • Day Out returns this summer, August 12th thru 14th!
Featuring The National, Mitski, Mac DeMarco and more! Full lineup and tickets at dayindayoutfest.com