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on 11 March 2006
Now, don't get me wrong - I am a big fan of Lyle Mays. I actually prefer his playing to that of Pat Metheny in the Pat Metheny Group albums (though I'm a pianist, which probably makes me biased - no disrespect to Mr Metheny). I also have some of his other solo albums, which I like.
And it's not that I don't like this album, as such - it is impeccably played, and he has fantastic sidemen. But this is definately not what you are used to from a Mays or PMG album: this is a trio date. Again, nothing wrong with that, especially with Jack de Johnette and Marc Johnson in tow. But here they are playing new tunes by Mays, with themes that are a bit hard to recognise, and then plunge off into meandering, semi-free solos where the structure is not always apparent.
As a listener, I tended to get lost in the undergrowth - I couldn't really tell where the tune stopped and the solos started, and then where the tune started again. Any while Mays is generally a pretty lyrical sort of player, on this I can't really say any of the solos were terribly exceptional. Doubtless I'm missing the subtleties, but I am a fairly experienced jazz listener and have heard this sort of thing done better.
If you are looking for a "Pat Metheny Group"-type experience, this is not the album for you. It is straight-ahead small group jazz, not a highly structured and produced studio album. Here, the music is fairly free trio jazz with whispy tunes and uncompromising jazz solos. Like I say, you can't really fault the music. I just felt the participants were having a lot more fun playing than I was listening.
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