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Lyle Mays: Solo: Improvisations for Expanded Piano

The dramatic, almost maddeningly detailed and sophisticated Solo: Improvisations for Expanded Piano gives vivid voice to Lyle Mays’ thoughts and moods. Longtime collaborator Pat Metheny’s and Steve Rodby’s production provides crystal-clear canvases for Mays’ orchestral musings, which are realized on MIDI piano, grand piano and synthesizer. Whether growing and twisting sparse, reflective melody lines into pretty little dances on intimate pieces like “Let Me Count the Ways” or carving out an epic journey through complex, thematically linked movements, as on “We Are All Alone,” Mays builds on recognizable themes, moods and dilemmas, making even his most challenging arrangements oddly accessible. There is charm and reverent intimacy in “Origami,” a detailed, precise piece that vividly illustrates the art form’s regimented but wonderful folds. Likewise, glints of fear and beauty play throughout “Lightning Field,” which builds tension through dissonance, dynamics and hard, dramatic chord hits. This challenging album invites listeners on a journey of the mind and the heart, as described by the vivid fingerwork of one of the modern era’s most accomplished pianists.

Originally Published