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Lyle Mays: Eberhard (LyleMays.com)

A review of the keyboardist's final recording

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Lyle Mays: Eberhard
The cover of Eberhard by Lyle Mays

Eberhard is the final recording of Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny’s longtime Metheny Group keyboardist/collaborator and an acclaimed solo artist in his own right. Mays composed Eberhard in 2009 for the Zeltsman Marimba Festival and recorded it from August 2019 up until January 2020—shortly before his untimely death on February 10, 2020 at the age of 66.

A 13-minute-long, sweeping symphonic composition comprising several sections and employing (at various times) 16 musicians—including keyboardist Mitch Forman, guitarist Bill Frisell, and percussionist Alex Acuña—Eberhard honors Mays’ friend, bassist Eberhard Weber, whom he considered a major influence. It’s a beautiful, intricately detailed, and richly textured work. The piece opens softly and gracefully. Mays’ piano is underpinned by Wade Culbreath’s marimbas, creating an evocative atmosphere, with Jimmy Johnson’s fretless electric bass singing a mournful melody over delicately layered percussion. Ethereal wordless vocals led by Mays’ niece, singer Aubrey Johnson, open the next section as the piece steadily builds in intensity. Saxophonist Bob Sheppard delivers a lengthy solo as the work reaches a powerful climax before returning to the original theme and bringing Eberhard to a quiet, gentle close.

In the press materials for Eberhard, bassist Steve Rodby, Mays’ close friend, former Metheny Group bandmate, and an associate producer (and player) on the piece, said, “This wasn’t meant to be Lyle’s last piece of music, and if he had lived longer, he had plans for more.” Eberhard is a tremendous achievement, its beauty made poignant by the knowledge that it’s likely the last we will hear from an artist who surely would have created more deeply realized music had illness not cut short his time on this earth.

Learn more about Eberhard here

Read longtime Pat Metheny Group drummer Paul Wertico’s farewell tribute to Lyle Mays here.

Check the price and availability of Eberhard on Amazon.

Lucy Tauss

Lucy Tauss is a New York City-based music journalist and longtime JazzTimes contributor. She is also a radio and audio producer/writer/editor/journalist who covers news, entertainment and everything in between.