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Pat Metheny - As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (with Lyle Mays) CD (album) cover

AS FALLS WICHITA, SO FALLS WICHITA FALLS (WITH LYLE MAYS)

Pat Metheny

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.17 | 75 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
4 stars You know those times when you get a yen to hear something that's kinda cool jazz fusion but not complex and harsh like Mahavishnu Orchestra or hot and funky like Return to Forever? You want synthesizers and guitars but you don't want to be lulled to sleep? Or you need music that satisfies the progger in you yet won't result in having your "you know I don't like progressive stuff" girlfriend/wife nagging you to turn it off? Well, friend, I think this album is for you. It's the kind of record that even your know-it- all buddies probably haven't heard and will have them asking "what's this we're listening to, anyway?"

The first instrumental, "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls," is over twenty minutes of excellent musical exploration. It really doesn't remind me of anything else in this genre. It starts off with what I can only describe as the far away drone of a crowd at an outdoor event hurriedly seeking shelter from a fast-moving thunderstorm. It's somewhat esoteric, for sure, but it gives the piece an exciting aura of mystery. After that drifts away you are treated to segments of chiming keyboards, Nana Vasconcelos' rhythmic percussion dancing over spacey atmospheres, a Pink Floyd-ish organ sequence, some gorgeous symphonic chord building (that borrows graciously from Aaron Copland), layer upon layer of Lyle Mays' sensuous synthesizers and a fade out where the laughter of children can be heard in the distance. It is nothing if not unique and very entertaining to say the least.

"Ozark" is the best and most original track here. It features a speedy, rolling piano over Pat Metheny's crisp acoustic guitar strumming augmented by Mays' angelic autoharp. The regal melody is unforgettable and Lyle steals the show with his solo piano work in the middle of the song. His stellar performance is reminiscent of Keith Emerson's ethereal, inspired stylings on the first ELP album. Next is "September Fifteenth (dedicated to Bill Evans)" and this is one resplendent tune. Pat's delicate acoustic guitar playing is backed by soothing orchestral keyboard effects and in the beginning they utilize a classical structure before evolving into a jazzier feel. Mays' piano work in particular is exquisite.

"It's For You" follows with a joyful synthesizer melody performed over full, folk-like strums on the acoustic. They segue into flute sounds with wordless vocal lines from Nana before Metheny finally takes a long, fluid ride on electric guitar. A Brazilian samba rhythm takes over, giving the proceedings a very festive air. "Estupenda Graca" is the closer; an almost hymn-like vocal melody sung over basic piano and acoustic guitar. It is distinguished by what sounds like tropical bird clicks and chatterings as if the tune was recorded in a rain forest. Short but sweet.

While Pat's name gets equal billing on this album, let there be no doubt that this is the supremely talented Lyle Mays' showcase. He is a gifted keyboard musician/composer and he's brilliant throughout this project. Had this record come out a few years earlier when jazz rock/fusion was still in high demand it might have garnered the attention it deserved but, unfortunately, in 1980 punk, new wave and glitter bands were all the rage and intricate, thought-provoking albums like this one couldn't barter for ad space in Rolling Stone. However, for all the reasons I've listed and more, it's a quality piece of aural art that deserves a niche in your collection. 4.3 stars.

Chicapah | 4/5 |

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