Lyle Mays

Eberhard
(Lyle Mays Music)

Lyle Mays passed last February, after a long illness. A long musical life, too, spent somewhat in the shadow of his more famous collaborator Pat Metheny, but known to musicians as a man who could quicken almost any musical material into vivid life. That he also wrote and recorded audiobooks for children says much about his imagination. Almost every Lyle Mays piece seems to tell a story.

On Eberhard, he brings to life again his old associate, bassist Eberhard Weber, whose thrilling tones were one of the definitive sounds of early ECM recordings. A cluster of cellos and the strong, Wilbur Ware-like bass of Mays’ great friend Steve Rodby might seem to be there to realize the protagonist, but the whole score, immaculately through-composed and with scarcely a measure that doesn’t look forward and round new corners, is a perfect evocation of Weber’s personality. Rarely has a piece of modern music so completely delivered a portrait of an individual, but also of a shadowy family group who learned from him. It’s emotional music, yes, but as always with Mays it’s emotion contained within an appropriate architecture and entrusted only to builders who share its vision.