Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays: As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls


MAY 1981 (31 YEARS AGO)
Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays: As Falls Wichita, so Falls Wichita Falls is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# allmusic 4/5
As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls is a collaborative album by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, released in May, 1981. The title makes reference to Wichita, Kansas and Wichita Falls, Texas. The title tune clocks in at just under 21 minutes.
It is one of the only albums where Metheny not only acts as both the lead and accompanying guitarist but also the bassist, as each track uses fair amounts of overdubbing.
Like the echo of a grand landscape, Metheny and Mays create an atmospheric meditation on traveling across the great open expanse of America. 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.
REVIEW
by Stephen Cook, allmusic
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. And while this side-long number has some dreamy moments, it also bogs down in a trite climax or two; one gets the sense of a jazz fusion and prog rock marriage Metheny luckily never fully explored. Minor flaws, really, since the piece holds together in spite of the worrisome lapses of taste. The balance of the album is just fine, with the highlight being the Bill Evans remembrance, “September Fifteenth” (the date of Evan’s passing, which occurred while the album was being recorded). Metheny and Mays appropriately opt for a serene and slightly elegiac piano and acoustic guitar duet. The set is balanced out by the fleet Americana of “Ozark” and the streamlined swinger “It’s for You.” Topped off by integral and tasteful percussion by future band regular Nana Vasconcelos, this 1981 Metheny date is certainly a worthwhile disc for fans to seek out, while not being essential.
TRACKS:
All music composed by Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays.
Side one
1.            “As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls” 20:44
Side two
1.            “Ozark” 4:03
2.            “September Fifteenth” (dedicated to Bill Evans) 7:45
3.            “It’s for You” 8:20
4.            “Estupenda Graça” 2:40

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