Lyle Mays

Solo: Improvisations for Expanded Piano

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Lyle Mays has made his own albums infrequently, usually preferring to serve as the keyboard player in the Pat Metheny Group. This is only his fourth album in 15 years, and it is his first on which he is the sole player. He had a solo spot on the 1997-1998 Metheny Group world tour, and it when it ended Metheny persuaded him to go into a studio in August 1998 and record his improvisations on acoustic piano. This he did with very little in the way of prior composition, his efforts not only recorded but also entered into a MIDI computer. With that digital record of his performances, he proceeded to write orchestrations that followed the soloing, played on synthesizers, thus, the title reference to "expanded piano." In practice, this triumph of technology comes off largely as an ambient piano recording liable to remind listeners of both George Winston and Keith Jarrett. The added effects are usually unobtrusive or at most atmospheric, and Mays' playing is attractive without being showy, typical for him. The music is jazz in the sense that it is improvised and classical in the sense that it is, in effect, composed after the fact. But most ears will place it as new age.

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