Like the echo of a grand landscape, Metheny and Mays create an atmospheric meditation on traveling across the great open expanse of America As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls. By turns introspective and hymn-like, soaring and transcendent, the music resonates with a rural spirit, to which the Brazilian percussion of Nana Vasconcelos brings a more universal feel. Both "It's For You" and the epic title track evoke sonic vistas that touch a nerve with their layered keyboards and guitars. "Ozark" is a dynamic track featuring piano propelled by gentle percussion, while "September Fifteenth" is a quiet and deeply moving dedication to pianist Bill Evans. "Estupenda Graca" is like a gentle prayer sung both as closure, and in anticipation of the travels to come.
Lyle Mays waited a long, long time before straying from the Pat Metheny Group to issue his first solo album, but when he did, the results were at once removed but not totally untethered to the Metheny sound and feeling. On his own, Mays' synthesizer solos and textures are close in sound to what he was doing in the Metheny group, but the turns of phrases in his acoustic piano solos reflect the heavy shadow of Keith Jarrett.
Lyle Mays' second solo album ventures even further afield than his acclaimed first record, into areas not associated with Mays nor his employer Pat Metheny. This time, the personnel list is far more varied, with several guest luminaries from the world of jazz-rock, as well as a big band and full chamber orchestra on some selections. Again, the main thrust of the album is bound up in a lengthy suite with new age atmospheric elements, juxtaposing fleet Brazilian grooves with a chamber orchestra, voluble Mays piano solos, and electronic interpolations by Mays and Frisell reminiscent of early classical electronic music.
Lyle Mays, who came to fame for his electric collaborations with Pat Metheny, surprised many with this superior outing in an acoustic trio setting. On the liner jacket Mays thanks Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Paul Bley for their inspiration. If one adds in Chick Corea and especially Bill Evans, that should give listeners an idea of what to expect. However, to his credit (and with the assistance of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Jack Dejohnette) Mays avoids performing overly played standards and sticks mostly to originals (including two free improvisations). There is no coasting on this excellent set.
The regrettable title aside, this joint solo effort by Metheny and regular pianist and collaborator Lyle Mays is an impressive outing. In the process of stretching out away from the confines of the quartet setting of prior albums, Metheny and Mays presage the sleeker and more ethereal sound of the band's Geffen years on portions of the title track.(Stephen Cook - AllMusic Guide)
Highlights on Solo Improvisations include the dark and tenebrous "This Moment," and the gorgeous, poignant ballad "Let Me Count the Ways." Originally improvising from beginning to end (with the exception of two pieces), Mays was able to digitally record the results, later changing certain notes to represent strings and other synthesized sounds. The outcome is a beautiful, entrancing album that runs the musical gamut from sharp and dissonant to lush and romantic.