"Phase Dance", ECM Records release "Pat Metheny Group", 1978
This track quietly catapulted Pat Metheny from a relative unknown to a profound presence on the jazz scene. Forget about "rising star"; he pretty much bypassed that whole period. At the time of a lot of emerging rock-flavored jazz releases, Metheny's new band split right between straight-ahead and fusion. This was a completely new and distinctive sound.
First of all, it's a seven minute track. It starts out gently, quickly comes to a simmer, and before you know it, they're cooking at a rapid boil pace. I remember first hearing it in a Berkeley, CA record (yes, record) store. It crept up on me and a dozen other people in the store at the time. It was as though we collectively had to know just who this was they were playing, at about 4 minutes into the track. The whole stream of us, without a word, walked over to the turntable, saw what was playing, then immediately went to the rack and grabbed a copy.
Almost everyone that has heard Pat Metheny and his music has latched on and continued to follow him. "Phase Dance" was the track that started that magnetic attraction.