“It is with deep sadness that I share that my uncle, Lyle Mays, passed away this morning in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones, after a long battle with a recurring illness. Lyle was a brilliant musician and person, and a genius in every sense of the word. He was my dear uncle, mentor, and friend and words cannot express the depth of my grief.
From his family, thank you for loving him and his music.”
Wow, that's awful. I'm in the Pat Metheny fan group on Facebook, and yesterday someone posted something that sort of implied that he had passed, but googling turned up nothing. This is a big bummer. I think I saw him play more times than anyone else (aside fro Pat himself).
A band I was in opened for the PM Group in their early days at the Mississippi Nights club in STL...'77 or '78 I think. Lyle was the nicest guy. We carried around this sort of a chopped baby grand. It played with the smoothness of driving a semi-truck in a parking lot but sounded fairly decent through the house system. Lyle commented he loved the band and that he wished they carried something like that.
We met again years later when he was doing a clinic at Musician's Institute in Hollywood , where I was part of the Big Band and small group Jazz ensembles. Bob Sheppard was playing in the group with Lyle. I think it was Steve Houghton and Tom Warrington too. They sounded great, I remember them just playing some Standards and a couple of Lyle's tunes.
When it came time in the program to talk about music, harmony and his overall approach, he had the entire packed room - teachers, students, visiting musicians, the guys on stage- totally mesmerized ! Such a deep, genius type guy. Yet very humble, down to earth and so easy to converse with. I was amazed that he remembered that gig and our band in STL.
This is so sad. I'm literally in tears. The only comfort is that he had already "retired" from the music business and seemed content with his body of work, which is indeed massive. RIP Lyle and thanks for inspiring me to become a musician. The first time I heard "Phase Dance" my life was forever changed.
So sad. Didn't know he was ill. I got to see him with the PMG a couple of times. Such great shows with great musicians. His first solo release is a favorite of mine. Also, he recorded with bassist Eberhard Weber in a live recording that's different than his PMG music, but just as compelling. RIP
Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny had a synergistic effect on each other in their song composition. Metheny wasn't the same without him. Many musicians don't realize what a special talent it takes to be a multi-keyboardist and do it well. Lyle Mays was the best at that.
I was able to see every Pat Metheny Group tour from First Circle to The Way Up. I also attended many of Metheny’s non-Group shows. There was always something special about the Metheny/Mays connection. Many of us always held out hope that one day they would collaborate again and reunite that special chemistry. Sadly, that can never happen. Also sad that during the past fifteen years we heard very little from Lyle. This is an enormous hole in the world of music. RIP Lyle.
Sad, sad day. He was a phenomenal musician. I first experienced Lyle with PMG when I saw them in NYC in '85 at the Pier 84 next to the Intrepid during the First Circle tour. They opened with First Circle and I was transfixed. Lyle's first solo record is still in my listening rotation. The Way Up is a masterpiece.
He was a very early inspiration! We are fortunate to have his catalogue to listen to. I loved his first two solo records...interestingly enough, the first one still sounds good today!
That first record really revealed to me who Mr. Mays was. ( In comparison, I thought he sounded more restricted in the Metheny group...) I played the heck out of all those Metheny and Mays records in 80s and 90s - to the point where I have trouble hearing them with the right ears anymore. Overplayed, possibly?
But Lyle's first solo record (and perhaps "Offramp") still sounds vital and alive today. Thank you so much, Lyle!
Nord Stage 2EX, NI Kontrol S61, Yamaha MX49, Kurz PC3, Mopho Keys, drums, tons of synth software, guitars, amps, and pedals...
From my Lylecentric playlist for today, a track from an ECM album by Steve Swallow called 'Home'- musical settings for poems by Robert Creeley, with Lyle Mays on synth casting a mood that matches mine today. Sadly this link only works for 'YouTube Premium' subscribers; since I'm a 'regular' guy, I'm taking it on faith that it'll work for those who are paid up.
Next up on my list, 'Imaginary Day' in 5.1 surround. Pretty much an epic experience.
Thanks for the beauty you sent into the world, Mr. Mays.
I got to see The PM Group years back when I was still having afterglow from the main prog era and I was floored by Lyle's fluidity. He also showed me a completely new angle on synths that left a positive impression on my own approach. Anything from ECM always has great inherent worth, but I especially liked his work there. I've never been a huge jazz fan in the usual sense, but I've always been a fan of Lyle. He had a superior musical run worth remembering... and re-playing at home.
First SETI contact hailed as aliens beam out Voyager response!: "SEND MORE CHUCK BERRY!"
Seems appropriate to post this version of "James" since the uploader chose to use a pic of Lyle. Love how Lyle's solo seems to flirt with quoting a bossa nova standard such as "Wave" or "Aguas de Marco" but not quite getting there.
Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays's music was part of the soundtrack of my college years (As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls), and well beyond. An incredible pianist and synthesist with a unique and identifiable voice. So sad to hear.
Yeah very sad. What a deep and connected musician. I knew Lyle for a minute in the late 70's when we were both at North Texas. I was a trombone major just starting out on piano and took private lessons from him for a semester or a summer or something. A very kind soul even then. I didn't realize we were so close in age. Rip In Peace, Lyle.
He really was a Genius, with a capital G. Aside from music, he also pursued interests in architecture and software development. Here he provides timestamp-to-timestamp commentary on his own TedX performance.
"The first notes you hear are chosen by one of my apps that mapped the calculus equations that describe the motion of the double pendulum to an accompaniment part played by synths. I wanted to use nonlinear dynamics as a starting point to illustrate the deep connections between math and music and to make a point about what we call organic."
I saw the Pat Metheny Group around 88 - 89 at the Orpheus Theather while I was at Berklee College Of Music in Boston. The band came out marching on to the stage like a marching band. I believe Lyle was teaching in the area around this time. On of my friends was having a band rehearsal in a room at Berklee. The door to the room had a tiny window. During the rehearsal one guy in the band noticed a dude looking through that tiny window for a while. He said I wonder what that dude wants? My friend said don’t mind him that’s “only” my piano teacher Lyle Mays! Never forgot that story. Obviously a down to earth guy as well as a brilliant virtuoso. No doubt. Pat Metheny just came out with a new album and the pianist is excellent but didn’t sound quite like Lyle. Seemed strange to me. Know I understand why Lyle wasn’t on this album. Incredible bummer. Just found out about an album he recorded in 2016, The Ludwigsburg Concert (Naxos, 2016). Check it out. So moving! He will be greatly missed! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kEbzMwcF0GOY3SIAToGoyg-1H0KoDz-zQ
When I was about 14 or 15 and just getting into improvised music, a couple of slightly older guys who I played with took me to see the Metheny Group - I think this would have been the American Garage tour. I didn't know anything about the band at that point, and from where we were sitting or standing, Lyle was set up with his back to us and I actually thought for most of the concert that he was a woman because of his long hair. I have to laugh at my younger self now - but, after the first minute or so it didn't matter who or what he was, the music was amazing, transcendental even, for me. I spent the rest of high school and college listening obsessively to everything they put out - I used to go to sleep listening to As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, every night for a few years at least. Lyle's harmonic approach, and particularly his approach to synths and orchestration, were huge influences on me.
Near the end of college (which was in Cambridge, MA, near where Lyle was living at the time) I was walking past a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint one night near my dorm. I happened to look in and see this very familiar-looking guy playing a video game. I went in, and sure enough it was Lyle, playing Ms. Pac-Man! I was pretty shy but mustered up the courage to approach him (after he finished a level, of course.) He was as nice as could be, very generously bailed on his game and sat with me for a while, asked me questions about what I was studying, and seemed as down-to-earth and just plain human as everyone else has said. I think I asked him about studying with him which would have been a dream for me, but circumstances never quite aligned for it to happen - something I regret to this day.
Anyhow, it was a cool experience to meet one of my heroes like that, and something I will (obviously) never forget!
I am a little bit curious as to what his health issue was, but perhaps it doesn't matter .
It was late 1977 or 78 when I heard the Pat Metheny Group when they opened for the Milestone All Stars ( Mc Coy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and Ron Carter ) in Portland.
They blew the headfliners off the stage that night . That's saying a lot based on the name recognition of the All Stars , but what made them stand out was their obvious TEAMWORK, and unique musical conception, which I give the original Pat Metheny Group a lot of credit for.
It was quite astonishing what the original Metheny Group had achieved in a relatively short amount of time.
So it doesn't seem like that long ago. There are many on this forum who are in the age range that Lyle Mays is in. All I can say is, take good care of yourself.
It’s a stunning performance, everyone should check it out. But note that it’s from a concert Lyle played in 1993. Around 2015 someone brought it to his attention and they worked out a deal to release it. So glad they did!
RIP LM - I would have to say that Lyle's playing changed my musical life... I believe Lyle ( and Pat) are the same age as I am .. so very relate-able to me on a number of intangible levels I guess ..... Caught him live once w/ PMG at Radio city years back..he was brilliant.. glad I did!
There was a discussion a couple of months ago on the forum about Lyle Mays. At that time, I had offered my opinion on his enormous talent. Hearing of his passing is sad news indeed, but I find amazing comfort in the realization that his music will be with us forever, and I am blessed to have been able to listen to it, experience it for the past 4 decades, feel it move me, and appreciate what it has always been, which (in my opinion) is some of the most emotional and expressive music I have ever heard.
Lyle Mays truly spoke through his music, and that music was able to convey a thought, a feeling, an emotion, more than most words could. When I listen to Lyle play, I hear the beauty of life, as life should be.
Although Lyle spoke through his music, someone uploaded an audio recording of a master class Lyle did at UNT, and we get to hear some of his insights on music.