I finally got around to transcribing a Lyle Mays tune I’ve been meaning to work on for a while. It comes from Pat Metheny’s 1995 album We Live Here, which showcases some great compositions and guitar playing. It rewards repeated listening, though I find the production on the album to be heavy-handed; the tracks are drenched in reverb and soulless drum machine loops, putting most of them squarely in a genre some would call “weather channel jazz”.
Still, both Metheny and Mays are experienced writers who know how to spin a thread of melody into a colorful tapestry, and this song is no exception. It has quite a long head with a lot of rhythmic variation, but you can see the main theme is built on a simple diminished scale idea (especially made plain after the coda). There isn’t much functional harmony either, as the chord progression is mostly minor 9th chords moving in seconds and thirds to create tension and release. This makes it easier to disguise the subtle changes in form and key during the solo section.
The other tunes on the record were co-written by Pat Metheny and so can be found in the Pat Metheny Song Book, an invaluable resource for those who want to learn more about his compositional style.