Lyle Workman – Uncommon Measures
Making appearances on Uncommon Measures are Vinny Colaiuta and Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums along with Tim Lefebvre on bass, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Jeff Babko on electric piano and organ, and several others. Many of these artists are big players in the Jazz-Fusion and Progressive Rock-Jazz styles. The orchestra lends towards that same taste, sounding reminiscent of YES’ Magnification and others. Workman himself shows influences of Allan Holdsworth and Steve Howe in some places.
It’s Vinnie Colaiuta who kicks off the album on North Star. The tones and techniques put you in mind of Holdsworth but adding his orchestration is something remarkable. This is a fine introduction to the rest of the album and it does not disappoint. It is followed by All the Colors of the World with a pulsating introduction before transitioning into a lyric electric guitar and strings. The arrangement is spot on and the development is fascinating. Listen for Wade Culbreath’s vibraphone and steady yourself for the brilliant guitar passages.
Noble Savage brings Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums and Sam Wilkes on bass. The guitar finger work is tight and the orchestration is lush beneath the energetic vibes and violin. Arc of Life has its Live and Let Die moments but that guitar of Workman is absolutely captivating. Wait for him to turn loose a little bit of Country guitar picking in the midst of orchestra and heavy Progressive rhythms.
Then comes Imaginary World with its tight rhythms and cool guitar alongside the smoking horn section of Katisse Buckingham (alto sax), Ron Dziubla (tenor sax), and Jamie Hovorka (trumpet). If you like Return to Forever, you will eat this up. The same lineup sticks around for Unsung Hero with smoking saxophone solos from Buckingham and Dziubla. Donald Barrett supplies fierce drum licks with Tim Lefebvre’s bone-crushing bass. And Workman brings it all home.
Everything changes with Labyrinth of Love. Workman is working alone with the orchestra in a fine tune that is melodic and touching. The acoustic guitar is gorgeous and the orchestration by Workman does not crowd the guitar. This is a beauty. Things pick up with Rise and Shine as Workman’s guitar are joined by Greg Leisz on pedal steel. Lefebvre keeps a cool bass line with Matt Chamberlain on drums here. Again, it is Workman’s electric guitar that steals the show.
The album concludes with Our Friendship, a John Ashton Thomas composition. The orchestration alongside Workman’s electric guitar is stellar. It is a fine and fitting way to end the album, an album so full of friendships and camaraderie. Uncommon Measures sings of emotion and humanity, filled with intelligence and wonder. Workman has supported so many musicians and artists for so long, it is time to carve out space for himself.