Functions and features of the Oberheim synthesizer
The Oberheim Synthesizer was developed by Tom Oberheim and, like the Prophet 5, it was the first choice for many musicians. The characteristic of Oberheim is its tone. The sticky, thick, strong sound that you can recognize as soon as you hear it has gained popularity from many keyboardists including Joe Zawinul of Weather Report and Lyle Mays of the Pat Metheny Group. At that time, the price was well over 1 million yen, so it was professional equipment, and unattainable for amateurs.
Pat Metheny Group / Keyboard Player: Lyle Mays
The Pat Metheny Group has released many albums since their first album, "Pat Metheny Group", was released in 1978. It was keyboardist Lyle Mays who supported the Pat Metheny Group. Mays is a Bill Evans-oriented jazz pianist, and the synthesizer is used in the framework of the song, such as the ensemble and the theme of the song. Mays was nominated for a Grammy Award for a big band song when he was in college. I imagine that an orchestration with a synthesizer was built in his head. However, Mays' solo and improvisation were played only on the piano, and his solo is transparent like Evans'. I've watched the Pat Metheny Group live several times, and how he operated many synths including the Kurzweil synthesizer, Oberheim 4 Voice, and Roland JX-10, focusing on the acoustic piano, was overwhelming.
Oberheim 8 Voice
Lyle Mays playing Oberheim 4 Voice
■ Recommended album: "Pat Metheny Group" (1978)
The Pat Metheny Group's early hit "Pat Metheny Group". The first album by the quartet with Lyle Mays, Mark Egan on the bass, and Danny Gottlieb on the drums. If you listen to this album, it's hard to believe it's a sound produced by 4 men. However, this band also plays these songs live with a quality better than studio recordings. I've seen the Pat Metheny Group live 3 times, and every one was a perfect and highly skilled super band live. In the concerts I went, Lyle Mays played acoustic piano, Oberheim synthesizer, Roland Super JX synthesizer, Kurzweil K2500, Autoharp and more. The album also includes their live standards "Phase Dance" and "San Lorenzo". Listen to this Metheny Group album and you'll find that the band had already been perfected at a high level. I think the 2 songs mentioned above are symbolic.
The Metheny Group is not a band that plays straight ahead 4-beat jazz. However, if you listen to their performance, you can clearly see that it's a performance that digests straight ahead jazz such as bebop. In fact, Metheny played Miles Davis's "Solar" and the standard masterpiece "All the Things You Are" with Roy Haynes (Dr.) and Dave Holland (Bs.), and other authentic 4-beat songs, and Lyle Mays also played 4-beat jazz-based songs on his solo album.
The Pat Metheny Group was a place to play just the music of the Metheny Group, and jazz was just a material for the music performed here. The ability to write songs as a group is also completed at this point. In that sense, this first album proves that the Pat Metheny Group is a super band with excellent ability to compose complicated songs and reproduce them live.
Recommended song: "Phase Dance"
When I first heard the Pat Metheny Group's signature song, "Phase Dance," I wondered where this music belonged. The reason is that it's very pleasant for jazz. Although it belongs to the jazz category, it's not blatant 4 beat, but instead, it was very pop-like, easy-to-listen to, and easy-to-understand. However, jazz-like idioms appear here and there. In the early live performances of the Metheny Group, they picked up bossa nova classics such as "How Insensitive" that jazzmen like, and finished them in a jazzy style.
Keyboardist Lyle Mays plays the theme to lead the ending of "Phase Dance" with the Oberheim 4 Voice. With a little portamento, the bare sound of the Oberheim waveform, which is not synthesized, is particularly impressive. You can hear the typical sound of the Oberheim oscillator, which shows the charms of Oberheim.
■ Recommended album: "Lyle Mays" (1986)
Lyle Mays' first solo album. The third album shows a devotion to the acoustic piano trio, but this album has a composition and sound creation that is conscious of the Pat Metheny Group.
Recommended song: "Highland Aire"
You can hear the sound of Oberheim 4 Voice, which can be described as Lyle's patent sound, in a song reminiscent of the Pat Metheny Group. According to an interview with Lyle, "the sound that simulates the situation where students play a vertical flute at school and there's a kid who is out of tune and everyone gets out of pitch" is the sound of Oberheim, which can be said to be the true value of Lyle. It's an idyllic warm sound, and there must be many fans of this sound. Of course, I'm one of them.
Musicians, albums, recommended songs, keyboards picked up in this article
- Artist: Lyle Mays (Pat Metheny Group)
- Albums: "Pat Metheny Group" "Lyle Mays"
- Songs: "Phase Dance" "Highland Aire"
- Instrument: Oberheim 4 Voice