LYLE WORKMAN Uncommon Measures (Blue Canoe Records)
Digital [Release date 19.02.21] Physical [Release date 16.04.21]
Workman has recorded or toured with any number of well-known artists (Bryan Adams, Norah Jones among them), composed film scores, and has understandably found little time to get his own solo thing sorted. When he does it’s widescreen scale with a full orchestra against which he pitches his fusion guitar.
It’s like listening to the closing credits of a Hollywood blockbuster and the orchestral arrangements come from John Ashton Thomas who has scored for the Marvel franchise.
In fact the orchestra is not just in support but very much “in the mix” which gives this album a unique quality. Workman’s approach is entirely complementary to “the big picture”. Imagine a souped-up ‘Classical Gas’ vibe updated for the millennium.
Amongst the highlights the jaunty ‘All The Colors Of the World’ and the driving ‘Noble Savage’ whilst the longest piece ‘Arc Of Life’ is a real musical journey full of twists and turns.
‘Imaginary World’ conjures up Al Di Meola in terms of fusion fluidity with a rock slant whilst ‘Unsung Hero’ temporarily subjugates the orchestra for peppy brass and straight-ahead funk with a great sax solo from Ron Dziubia. ‘Labyrinth Of Love’ and ‘Rise And Shine’ are both attractive compositions underlining Workman’s melodic approach throughout.
Four years in the making, a 63 piece orchestra, and some jazz/rock session stalwarts . A combination that gives great promise and, on the evidence, one that surely delivers. ****
Review by David Randall
CAMERON GRAVES Seven (Artistry/Mack Avenue Music Group)
[Release date 19.02.21]
This album confirms what many think about jazz fusion. It can be up it’s own backside. Now, Cameron Graves has fashioned his own off-shoot “thrash jazz” inspired by his liking for metal and bands like Pantera and Meshuggah. However, it will still have non-believers shouting “where’s the tune?”. And it’s definitely not metal as we know it.
Graves also plumbs the rich jazz fusion heritage of the seventies which aligns him with bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever or Ian Carr’s Nucleus if you want to be closer to home.
He’s an accomplished pianist who has worked with Stanley Clarke more recently but was also a member of the West Coast Get Down outfit and this album features that band’s saxophonist Kamasi Washington.
The album’s two openers are about as accessible as you are going to get, along with Graves’ solo piece ‘Fairytales’. After that, it’s all crashing drums and serious jazz noodling. Not surprising that Graves has scored soundtrack music, most of this is intense and dramatic. Most tracks are of three or four minute duration, perhaps unusual for a jazzer. But still not for the faint hearted. ***
Review by David Randall
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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