[Review] Lyle Workman – Uncommon Measures

Lyle Workman has had a successful musical career over the years, both as a musician and as a film score composer. He offers us in 2021 a very elaborate and well-structured album entitled “Uncommon Measures” in which, in addition to special guests, an orchestra of over 60 elements and a choir appear. The genre proposed starts from Prog Rock to evolve and mix with other genres including Jazz, Fusion and many small facets all very interesting, produced by Blue Canoe Records. Lyle’s compositional quality is remarkable, as is the technique of the performers involved in this epic project, the result: an engaging and elaborate album of a high level. The opener “North Star” is an almost 10-minute summary of the sound proposed on the album, where orchestral carpets and guitar inserts immediately take center stage. The most symphonic facet of the sound emerges, without neglecting very interesting technicalities and virtuosity created by the intertwining of numerous instruments. Halfway between the pomposity of the orchestra and the intricate sounds of the 70s-style Prog to which Lyle masterfully refers for a powerful and very engaging opening track. “All The Colors Of The World” begins with darker sounds to quickly make way for orchestral symphonies, creating a melancholy intro. The Jazzy sounds mixed with those of Classical music creating a unique combination, enriched by tempo changes that almost reach the Fusion sounds, giving proof of the individual and choral technique of the musicians. The lead guitar of our Lyle fits with precision and punctuality, adding the right dose of virtuosity that makes the sound modern. A track that alternates crescendo moments with more symphonic openings, showing the compositional maturity and the complexity of the themes developed. The third track “Noble Savage” has a more modern structure and closer to Fusion, with dizzying rhythms where the orchestral parts are more background, giving more space to the Rock’s own instrumentation. A very engaging track especially for the rhythmic session and the positive melodies. “Arc Of Life” is the longest track on the album, exceeding 10 minutes, during which we have another high level rehearsal in the compositional phase. The orchestral parts return to the center of the scene, creating the right atmospheres on which Workman’s guitar technique is highlighted. A song in crescendo where the intensity increases with the passing of the minutes, while the song evolves between tempo changes and playing with the intertwining of multiple styles and genres. As in all the longest tracks on the album, the experience of composer of soundtracks makes itself felt and denotes the theme of the track, however adding modern touches and more Fusion and Prog. Surely one of the highlights of this work, reaching very high levels in the compositional and executive phase, a real team game where everyone adds positive ideas. “Imaginary World” returns to a ground closer to Fusion sounds, where the winds are at the center of the melodies and the guitar duets with them flawlessly. Here, too, the rhythmic session is constantly changing and very elaborate, while the guitar and winds indulges in virtuous and complex solos. “Unsung Hero” has a structure close to the Funky with the winds again protagonists both in the melodies and in the solos and at the center of the stage. A piece full of ideas that in the second part gives way to a guitar solo of fine workmanship always with positive sounds. “Labyrinth Of Love” is the shortest of the album, a mix of orchestration and guitar, with no rhythmic session. A passage that softens the tones characterized by dreamy melodies, however pleasant and interesting. “Rise And Shine” is a track that begins in a more linear and cheerful way, where the acoustic guitar offers solo parts of fine workmanship. A more carefree song on which you could also insert a vocal part if you want, but which even so entirely instrumental and with the guitar in the foreground is pleasant and well developed. The album closes with “Our Friendship,” another song without a rhythmic session and entirely played on the intertwining of orchestrations and guitar. Darker than the previous similar track, with a darker but at the same time majestic touch, which leaves us the desire to listen to this work again other times. A good album that contains all the ability and compositional vein of Lyle Workman and his collaborators, a flawless work that certainly has its strengths in the longer songs. The initial tracks are more intense and engaging than the last three, where, in my humble opinion, a bit of intensity is lost, especially in the songs without a rhythmic session. A disc that however offers us many ideas of considerable level, entirely instrumental but with very well articulated compositions. Recommended to all lovers of more symphonic and classical sounds, without disdaining forays into Jazz and Fusion in particular, rich in virtuosity that blend with the more general sounds given by the orchestra and the complicity between the musicians.

Tracklist

01. North Star
02. All The Colors Of The World
03. Noble Savage
04. Arc Of Life
05. Imaginary World
06. Unsung Hero
07. Labyrinth Of Love
08. Rise And Shine
09. Our Friendship

Lineup

Electric / Acoustic Guitars, Keys – Lyle Workman
Produced: Lyle Workman
​Drums (tracks 1, 2): Vinnie Colaiuta
Drums (track 3): Abe Laboriel Jr.
Drums (track 4): Toss Panos
Drums (track 5, 6): Donald Barrett
Drums (track 8): Matt Chamberlain
Bass (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8): Tim Lefebvre
Bass (track 4): Dan Lutz
Bass (track 3): Sam Wilkes
Electric Piano / Organ: Jeff Babko
Pedal Steel (track 8): Greg Leisz
Vibes / Marimba / Glockenspiel (tracks 1, 2, 3): Wade Culbreath
Alto Saxophone (tracks 5, 6): Katisse Buckingham
Tenor Saxophone (tracks 5, 6): Ron Dziubla
Trumpet (tracks 5, 6): Jamie Hovorka
Oboe / Flute / Clarinet (track 2): Chris Bleth
Violin (tracks 1, 2, 3): Charlie Bisharat
Lachsa Choir: Aleta Braxton (choir master), Skylar Lehr-Bryant,
Leilani Patao, Rachel Goodman, Monique Ramirez, Coco Mori

63 piece orchestra conducted by: John Ashton Thomas (at Abbey Road Studio – all tracks except 5, 8)
Orchestra Recorded: John Barrett c/o Abbey Road Studio 1 and assisted by Chris Parker. Pro Tools Operator: George Oulten
Orchestral Score Arranged: Lyle Workman (tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7) and John Ashton Thomas (tracks 1, 4, 9)
Orchestrated by: John Ashton Thomas (tracks 1, 4, 9) and John Ashton Thomas and Bruce Fowler (tracks 2, 3, 6, 7)
Strings Recorded at Abbey Road: Isobel Griffiths LTD (Orchestral Contractor), Jill Streater Music LTD (Music Prep and Librarian). Additional Transcriptions by Erik Carlson
Drums and Electric Bass Recorded: Chris Steffan c/o Band House Studio (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6). Ozzy Doniz c/o Tossimo’s (track 4), Matt Chamberlain c/o Cyclops Sound (track 8), and Michael Dumas c/o Horse Latitudes (track 3).
Horns Recorded: Michael Dumas c/o Horse Latitudes (tracks 5, 6)
Additional Recording Engineer: Lyle Workman, Shayna Newman, Jeff Babko
Mixed: Rich Breen
Mixed: Dave Way (track 8 only)
Mastered: Dave McNair Mastering
Photography: Greg Vorobiov
Cover Art: Wyatt Workman
Layout and Design: Marc Bonilla

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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