As we enter the first days of March, I have decided to alter the "Alloy Recommendation" feature a bit. To-date I have offered one album per month and featured tracks from that album throughout the month. While that has worked pretty well I am interested in mixing things up more. So, beginning this month, I will be recommending an album each week and playing select tracks from that album on the weekly "live" show as well as the "Live365" music web stream. This week's recommended album of the week is an ECM retro-classic, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays' 1981 release, "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls."
It is important to note that this is not a "Pat Metheny Group" album. It is a collaborative work between its two primary members, guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Lyle Mays, and features subtle but essential percussive work by future, short-term, "Group" member, Nano Vasconcelos). Chronologically, this album sits between the more straightforward jazz (and another non-"Group" album, "80/81") and the next Group album, "Offramp." One could argue that "As Falls..." foreshadows the sound of the later "Offramp," but I think it is more than that. What strikes me as unique to this album, and one of its lasting positives, is the 20-plus minute title track--part ambient, part concept, part world music, part experimental/avant, part...well, you get the idea, a lot of different musical themes and ideas! It flows very well and still holds up, to my ear, 24 years later.
Due to the length of the title track, and remember, this was recorded back in the days of vinyl and cassettes--meaning limited and constrained overall album length--there are only five tracks total on this album. All five are musically solid and stylistically diverse. In particular, and in addition to the title track, the other standout track is the beautiful and sensitive track, "September 15th," dedicated to the late, great pianist Bill Evans who passed away on September 15, 1980, a year prior to the release of this album. Lyle Mays' piano work on this track is an exceptional homage to Evans, reminiscent of the gorgeous solo he contributed to the standout track, "San Lorenzo," on the very first Pat Metheny Group album.