Lyle Mays waited a long, long time before straying from the Pat Metheny Group to issue his first solo album, but when he did, the results were at once removed but not totally untethered to the Metheny sound and feeling. On his own, Mays' synthesizer solos and textures are close in sound to what he was doing in the Metheny group, but the turns of phrases in his acoustic piano solos reflect the heavy shadow of Keith Jarrett.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band remains the big man's most ambitious album in many ways. A smart split is effected, and not only between styles–the horn-driven swing of the first half backs the record's wittiest, slyest songs, while the country-folk numbers are among Lovett's most pensive. He's not so mournful that he can't raise an eyebrow at heartache, though: try "I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You".
Lyle Mays' second solo album ventures even further afield than his acclaimed first record, into areas not associated with Mays nor his employer Pat Metheny. This time, the personnel list is far more varied, with several guest luminaries from the world of jazz-rock, as well as a big band and full chamber orchestra on some selections. Again, the main thrust of the album is bound up in a lengthy suite with new age atmospheric elements, juxtaposing fleet Brazilian grooves with a chamber orchestra, voluble Mays piano solos, and electronic interpolations by Mays and Frisell reminiscent of early classical electronic music.
Lyle Mays, who came to fame for his electric collaborations with Pat Metheny, surprised many with this superior outing in an acoustic trio setting. On the liner jacket Mays thanks Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Paul Bley for their inspiration. If one adds in Chick Corea and especially Bill Evans, that should give listeners an idea of what to expect. However, to his credit (and with the assistance of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Jack Dejohnette) Mays avoids performing overly played standards and sticks mostly to originals (including two free improvisations). There is no coasting on this excellent set.
The title says it all - this is an absolutely dreamlike collection of tunes, both funky and straight ahead, written and performed by a masterful ivory tickler. After an illustrious career as mostly a sideman and/or musical director for R&B biggies like Anita Baker and Al Jarreau, this release established Lyle as a solo star, and rightfully so. Lyle's R&B background is more than apparent on the best of these eight cuts like Baker's "Been So Long," the funky "Loco-motion," and the airplay winner "Tropical."
With guitarist/keyboardist Roland Wolf and Cramps/Gun Club veteran Kid Congo Powers on guitar added to the ranks, along with guest appearances from old member Hugo Race, the Seeds reached 1988 with their strongest album yet, the insanely powerful, gripping Tender Prey. Rather than simply redoing what they'd already done, Nick Cave and company took their striking musical fusions to deeper and higher levels all around, with fantastic consequences. The album boldly starts out with an undisputed Cave masterpiece – "The Mercy Seat," a chilling self-portrait of a prisoner about to be executed that compares the electric chair with the throne of God. Queasy strings from a Gini Ball-led trio and Mick Harvey's spectral piano snake through a rising roar of electric sound – a common musical approach from many earlier Seeds songs, but never so gut-wrenching as here. Cave's own performance is the perfect icing on the cake, commanding and powerful, excellently capturing the blend of crazed fear and righteousness in the lyrics.
One of Lyle's stronger releases was Genie, his debut LP from 1977. Produced by Wayne Henderson, this is primarily a fusion/crossover jazz effort. A young Lyle shows considerable promise on electric gems that include the imaginative title track, the congenial "Pisces," the North African-influenced "Mother Nile," and the haunting "Night Breeze" (which was also recorded by Ronnie Laws in the 1970s). Not everything on Genie is fusion or crossover jazz. "You Think of Her" and "Magic Ride" are vocal funk/soul items that find Lyle singing lead; he isn't mind-blowing as a singer, but he's decent. And Lyle detours into straight-ahead jazz with an unaccompanied solo piano performance of the standard "I Didn't Know What Time It Was." Nonetheless, R&B vocals and acoustic jazz aren't the things that Genie is best known for – instrumental fusion and crossover jazz are what caused this LP to go down in history as an electric jazz favorite. Genie falls short of perfect – the record would have been even stronger if Lyle had stuck to instrumental music, which is his specialty. But much of the album is excellent, and Genie frequently reminds us how much promise Lyle showed in the beginning.
Following the commercial and critically acclaimed success of the recent albums “Blues” (2019) and the three-week running No.1 album on the Billboard Blues Chart “Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ’77” (2020), UMC is pleased to present a new Rory Gallagher best of collection entitled “The Best Of Rory Gallagher” on Friday 9th October 2020.
Although best known for his barnstorming blues-rock, Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher had a softer side, too. All of his studio albums contain at least one acoustic folk-blues track, and Gallagher included an unplugged set in the majority of his live shows way before that was fashionable. Almost eight years after his death, Rory's brother Donal compiled a 14-track collection of previously unreleased work dedicated to Gallagher's folkier approach. It's the second such posthumous album (the terrific live and very electric BBC Sessions came out in 1999), and focuses on an important if lesser recognized aspect of the guitarist's career. It's also an eclectic set that shifts from melodic ballads ("Wheels Within Wheels") to instrumental modified flamenco ("Flight to Paradise" with classical guitarist Juan Martin) and solo Delta blues (a studio take of Tony Joe White's "As the Crow Flies," the live version of which was a highlight of Irish Tour). And that's just the first three songs.