PAT METHENY — As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (with Lyle Mays)

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PAT METHENY - As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (with Lyle Mays) cover
4.08 | 19 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1981

Tracklist

A.As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (20:44)
B1.Ozark (4:03)
B2.September Fifteenth (Dedicated To Bill Evans) (7:44)
B3.It's For You (8:20)
B4.Estupenda Graca (2:40)

Line-up/Musicians

- Lyle Mays /Autoharp, Composed By, Organ, Piano, Synthesizer
- Pat Metheny /Bass, Guitar
- Naná Vasconcelos /Berimbau, Drums, Percussion, Vocals

About this release

ECM 1190 (US)

Recorded September 1980 at Talent studio, Oslo

Thanks to snobb for the addition

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Abraxas
Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays back in the late 70's and through the 80's managed to achieve a couple of jazz masterpieces with their own original, very American sound; As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls was one of those various masterpieces, although it doesn't actually fall in the 'jazz' category.

The album starts off with the tour-de-force that the title track is, being over 20 minutes of pure bliss. This is not jazz fusion or any form of jazz, though, it's more of an ambient epic with mellow and dark themes that flow flawlessly together creating a thrilling journey in which Lyle is the main performer playing some delicate and intriguing keyboards that as a whole create a chilling aura. Having said that this is not jazz fusion, you must not expect Metheny's traditional synth guitar; Metheny mainly plays gentle bass and guitar bits on top of Lyle's mesmerizing soundscapes. To add a bit of bite to the music, Nana Vasconcelos is here adding the last ingredient to the music with his splendid percussion.

The following track, 'Ozark', is in the style of Pat Metheny's Group. You've got the usual up-lifting mood with Lyle's cheering piano and Pat's constant acoustic guitar. A lovely tune to play in a sunny day.

'September Fifteenth' is a sad, though beautiful tune that is dedicated to Bill Evans, the marvellous jazz pianist who passed away on September 15th 1980, after a long struggle with drugs. Pat and Lyle really play with their hearts on this tune.

'It's For You' is a tad bit melancholic with some very mellow passages in which Nana uses his voice as an instrument of melancholy. Metheny is heard with his 12-string guitar and his unique electric guitar delivering a delightful solo which finalizes the tune greatly.

The album ends with 'Estupenda Graça'(Stupendous Grace), a short and delicate tune with Nana being the one that leads the tune with his voice. This track finishes the album indeed with ''stupendous grace''.

In the end, I wouldn't consider As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls a jazz fusion masterpiece, so jazz fusion/rock fans that want to check out Pat Metheny, they better start with American Garage and the debut of the Pat Metheny Group, which actually aren't fusion in the classic way of Return to Forever or Weather Report. However anyone who is keen on Metheny's and Lyle's unique compositional skills this album should be checked out.
Chicapah
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 rebel in you yet won't result in having your "you know I don't like weird 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. 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 jazz collection.

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