Lyle Mays “Street Dreams”

Released: 1988; Reviewed 29th Feb 2020

A Badger confession.. despite being massive fans of The Pat Metheny Group, until recently we have been ignorant of just how significant Lyle Mays was to that group, and of his solo projects. Obviously, we knew what an outstanding pianist and musician he was, but didn’t realise quite how much he contributed to the sound and feel of the PMG.

Recently we have been listening a lot to his eponymous first album (we will be reviewing this in the future), but today we have downloaded (iTunes) his second album “Street Dreams” and will be sharing our thoughts as we listen to it for the first time.

Musicians on this album to listen for.. Steve Rodby, Steve Gadd, Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker! 

Spoiler alert!: This really is a cracking album and we urge you to take a listen if you haven’t already. If you do have this album in your library – get it out and listen to it again now!

Listen for free at the official Warner Jazz YouTube channel:

Badger “First Listen Review” 29th Feb 2020

1. Feet First

An atmospheric first couple of seconds, followed by a surprising funky electric piano, horns and rhythmic section. It certainly has a feel of the 1980’s in a very good way. 

The piano playing is distinctly Lyle, and it’s nice to hear it in a different setting to the expected PMG sound. This is more “mainstream” than a lot of Metheny tracks. 

2. August

A more PMG type start to this slower track (no complaints here!). Only on the second track and this album is promising to be one destined for the regular playlist in Badger HQ. 

A lovely quiet track.

3. Chorinho

An energetic, classical style introduction on electric piano. And it continues in this vein – nothing is predictable in this album. Which is just the way we like it – it keeps the interest up. This track does showcase the technical piano skills of Lyle. Our only criticism is our pet hate of a fade out ending.

4. Possible Straight

What’s happen now? A Big Band? A New Orlean’s strut? Another surprise track – it’s the album that keeps on giving. A great bit if bass trombone from Dave Taylor on this one. Mr Badger can feel a transcription of this one being added to his “to-do” list. The only let down is another fade out ending!

5. Hangtime

Back to the sort of thing we were expecting – an introduction of interplay between electric piano and bass, with minimal percussion. Interest piqued again as to where this track is going. Starting to build up now with additional instruments, before a breakdown into a subtle bass solo, and then back to interplay with the electric piano.

6. Before You Go

And now back to a light funk with strings, synth, et al. leading to an acoustic piano solo. Love it! This almost feels like a continuation/part 2 of the previous track, developing the funk feel.

7. Newborn

98 seconds of atmosphere which acts as a palate cleanser before the four part Street Dreams to come.

8. Street Dreams 1

The start is ‘reminiscent’ of the introduction to PMG’s “The Way Up” which came 17 years later.

9. Street Dreams 2

Continues in the same vein. Getting excited as to where this is going. Loving it so far. It develops rhythmically and adds horns. The best way to describe this is indeed as similar but different to “The Way Up” – a long form track with improvisation and composed sections. We’re so glad that this album has finally entered our music library, but disappointed that we haven’t had it in our lives until now. A bit of a deviation in “weirdness” towards the end, but this is totally in keeping with vibe of this track.

10. Street Dreams 3

A lovely start to this next section. Orchestral and interesting. Leading to the finale….

11. Street Dreams 4

Percussion is back for this one. And very listenable to it is too, our only disappointment being that it didn’t break out into a “big tune”, but rounded off the four part suite nicely nonetheless.