Jazz Keyboard great Lyle Mays dies at age 66

(February 11, 2020) Today, we say a sad goodbye to keyboardist extraordinaire Lyle Mays, best known for his work in the Pat Metheny Group, and the winner of 11 Grammy Awards for his compositions and collaborations. Mays died after a long battle with a recurring illness. He was 66.

While growing up, Mays had four main interests: chess, mathematics, architecture, and music. His parents were musically inclined – his mother was a pianist, his father was a guitarist – and he was able to study the piano with the help of instructor Rose Barron. She allowed Mays the opportunity to practice improvisation after the structured elements of the lesson were completed. At age 9 he played organ at a family member's wedding, and at age 14 he began to play organ in church. In summer camp he was introduced to important jazz artists.

(February 11, 2020) Today, we say a sad goodbye to keyboardist extraordinaire Lyle Mays, best known for his work in the Pat Metheny Group, and the winner of 11 Grammy Awards for his compositions and collaborations. Mays died after a long battle with a recurring illness. He was 66.

While growing up, Mays had four main interests: chess, mathematics, architecture, and music. His parents were musically inclined – his mother was a pianist, his father was a guitarist – and he was able to study the piano with the help of instructor Rose Barron. She allowed Mays the opportunity to practice improvisation after the structured elements of the lesson were completed. At age 9 he played organ at a family member's wedding, and at age 14 he began to play organ in church. In summer camp he was introduced to important jazz artists.

The Bill Evans' album At the Montreux Jazz Festival and Miles Davis' album Filles de Kilimanjaro (both recorded in 1968) were important influences on his formation as a jazz musician. He graduated from the University of North Texas after attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.[5][6][7] He composed and arranged for the One O'Clock Lab Band and was the composer and arranger of Grammy-nominated album Lab 75.

After leaving North Texas, Mays toured with Woody Herman's group for approximately eight months. In 1974, he met Pat Metheny with whom he later founded the Pat Metheny Group. Mays has won eleven Grammy Awards with the Pat Metheny Group and has been nominated for four others for his own work.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Lyle Mays among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

In the Pat Metheny Group, Mays provided arrangements, orchestration, and the harmonic and metric backbone of the group's musical signature. He occasionally performed on electric guitar as well. He played trumpet on the songs "Forward March" and "Yolanda You Learn" from the album First Circle (1984) and during the tour for that album.

His albums as a leader reflect a variety of interests. Lyle Mays and Street Dreams build on the content of the Pat Metheny Group, while Fictionary is a straight-ahead jazz trio session featuring fellow North Texan Marc Johnson on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

He also composed and recorded music for children's records, such as Tale of Peter Rabbit, with text read by Meryl Streep.

Lyle Mays was a giant in the jazz world and he will be missed.

 

Portions of this article licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Lyle Mays

photograph by Macustexgree, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

 
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