Reviews for PURPLE PASSAGES
GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE
Truly a solo album, these eight tracks are compositionally advanced and restlessly imaginative. Workman’s thickly layered tunes orchestrate nylon-string, solid body, guitar synth, and E-bow into complex, shifting pieces that funnel a zillion influences-from Holdsworth to The Beatles-into a compelling whole - Guitar Player Magazine, July, 1995Workman's solo debut, is a thrilling roller coaster ride through post-fusion's own demented theme park. Part heavy rock, part progressive and part jazzy, this CD is a feast of unusual textures, tones and melodies. You never know what to expect, since Mr. Workman likes to turn on a dime. "Lionhearted", for example, begins with prog rock, slips into fuzak, makes a reference to Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song," and then throws in a bit of Delta blues, replete with 78 r.p.m. clicks 'n' pops like a vintage Robert Johnson recording. Purple Passages is also chock full of Workman's complex compositions and barnburning leads, but the bottom line is: this home-brewed album stands on it's own merits as a unique sonic entity.
DAVE GREGORY- XTC
Lyle Workman’s astonishing album "Purple Passages" reveals a musician of consummate skill, creativity and taste. He virtually single-handedly crafts a great bunch of tunes with meticulous care, abandoning the usual guitar hero cliches in favor of melody, texture, and feel. "Purple Passages" should put Lyle Workman’s name on anybody’s list of favorite players – he’s already on mine
Workman's solo debut, is a thrilling roller coaster ride through post-fusion's own demented theme park. Part heavy rock, part progressive and part jazzy, this CD is a feast of unusual textures, tones and melodies. You never know what to expect, since Mr. Workman likes to turn on a dime. "Lionhearted", for example, begins with prog rock, slips into fuzak, makes a reference to Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song," and then throws in a bit of Delta blues, replete with 78 r.p.m. clicks 'n' pops like a vintage Robert Johnson recording. Purple Passages is also chock full of Workman's complex compositions and barnburning leads, but the bottom line is: this home-brewed album stands on it's own merits as a unique sonic entity.
PAUL REMMINGTON 1996
Haunting lyricism, melodic balance, harmonic maturity, rhythmic perfection;
these are but a few descriptive phrases used to describe Lyle Workman's
latest release, "Purple Passages," a compact disc consisting of eight
instrumental pieces. Workman has created a stunning collection of music
carefully crafted in a near-solo fashion.
Primarily rock by feel, Workman utilizes a variety of musical influences from
traditional blues to international influences, with distinct melodies and
complex, yet accessible chordal structures. As Workman describes, "It's music
written on and featuring the guitar with emphasis on chordal composition,
melodies, and moods. My goal was to write music that transcends structural
and stylistic limitations, yet has a strong melodic foundation. [The creation
of 'Purple Passages' was] a constant state of experimentation and discovery."
Workman is accompanied by six musicians on half the CD; one to two musicians on each of four pieces. The remaining four pieces are performed solely by Lyle. Workman is virtually a one-man-band. He is his own composer, arranger, producer, and engineer on both the initial recording and mixdown. He performs practically every instrument, including all electric and acoustic guitars; bass; the diatonically tuned, 27 string Finnish Kantele; and drum programming.
With so many areas of talent, it's no wonder Workman spent time performing
and recording with musical wizard Todd Rundgren. His previous credits include work with the critically acclaimed pop group, Bourgeois Tagg. He can be found on Bourgeois Tagg's "I Don't Mind at All," and Rundgren's "Nearly Human" and "Second Wind," to name only a few releases. He can also be seen on two Rundgren videos, "Todd Rundgren Live in Japan," and "The Making of Second Wind." Workman is currently recording with Frank Black, and also Jude Cole.
Workman has produced a compelling CD that does not become tiresome with
repeated listening. With a mere 45 minutes of material on a single CD, the
only drawback to this release is it leaves the listener wanting more. For
those that enjoy polished rock not forged in repetitious chord sequences and
banal melodic and harmonic content, this CD is a musical treat for even the
most discerning ear. A must buy!
ROBIN TOLLESON, contributing editor for Billboard, Downbeat, and Musician.
From the breathtaking to the sublime and all points in-between, Workman is musical and sure on this stunning debut. His timely melodic flair, powerful chops, and overriding sense of fun in it all give Workman a voice that rings out above the crowd.
The press release for this album is extraordinary, with ravings from artists as diverse as Vernon Reid, XTC, and jazz drummer Tony Williams. So who is this Lyle Workman? Well, he’s sessioned for Todd Rundgren and Jellyfish, but he’s also a composer of highly original instrumental music, some of which is on this album. Some of the cuts are very intricate and complex, but the melody always comes first. Highlights include multifaceted "Lionhearted", Metheny-influenced "East Of The Sun" and haunting "Bygones". Workman’s music transcends the usual rock, folk, ethnic and jazz boundaries. Definitely a cut above your usual instrumental guitar album!
Talk about an esoteric resume; guitarist Lyle Workman has recorded with Bourgeois Tagg, Frank Black, Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish and Jude Cole. So, what does his music sound like? None of the above. Workman is a impressive, rock-schooled player with the rhythmic blood of a jazz man, the conceptual savvy of a orchestrator, and the multi-instrumental talents of a dedicated studio nerd, and his highly developed compositions are laden with majestic guitar work and a rich melodic lyricism -
Lyle began guitar at 10 years old. After learning basic chords from his father, Lyle taught himself Beatles songs and by his teens, classic icons like The Who, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. In college became interested in blues, jazz, classical and studied music theory and composition.
Lyle’s first break into the profession of music was as a member of Bourgeois Tagg, who recorded two records for Island records in ’86 and ’87, including Yo-Yo, which was produced by Todd Rundgren. Reflecting Lyle’s earliest influences were the Beatlesque pop strains of "I Don't Mind at All", Bourgeois Tagg's hit single co-written by Workman and band co-founder Brent Bourgeois. This propelled the group into the international spotlight with concerts throughout North America and Europe.
After Bourgeois Tagg disbanded in 1989, Lyle, along with fellow Bourgeios Tagg members, recorded and toured in Todd Rundgren’s band. This lineup yielded the recording of "Nearly Human" and "Second Wind". During this period Lyle began to write instrumental music and assumed the title of musician, composer, arranger, engineer and producer for his premiere solo project, Purple Passages, released by Immune Records. Recorded in a spare bedroom, this CD received international acclaim and was dubbed "possibly the best guitar album of the year" by Guitar Shop Magazine.
Back to pursuing new musical adventures in the pop field, Lyle hooked up with the group Jellyfish, who brought his guitar work on board for the recording of "Spilt Milk", released in ’93. Shortly afterwards, Lyle hooked up with ex-Pixies front man Frank Black for the recording of "Teenager Of The Year" and as a member of "Frank Black and the Catholics", toured and recorded up to the summer of ‘98. In the midst of recording with Frank Black and the Catholics, Jazz great drummer Tony Williams brought Lyle in the studio and recorded one of Lyle’s pieces for his record "Wilderness".
After moving to Los Angeles in 96’ became more active as a studio musician, and recorded with artists such as Sheryl Crow, Shakira, Steven Curtis Chapman, They Might Be Giants, Jakob Dylan, and Kevin Gilbert. Lyle worked with notable record producers such as Steve Lillywhite, Rick Rubin, and Dr. Dre.
After temporarily leaving the road to concentrate on composing and working at home in Los Angeles, Lyle finished his second instrumental project "Tabula Rasa" and in late ’99, his love for live performing brought him back on stage playing guitar with the pop artist Beck up until August 2001.
Lyle’s distinctive guitar work can also be heard on many film scores including TWO FOR THE MONEY, IN GOOD COMPANY, STARSKY AND HUTCH, OLD SCHOOL, CHARLIE’S ANGELS (I and II). In his home studio Lyle produced and engineered the group Smash Mouth for the soundtrack of Mike Myers’ “CAT IN THE HAT”.
As film composer,, Lyle wrote the music for Universal Picture’s THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, released in August 2005. Lyle also co-wrote the score to MADE, a film by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn (SWINGERS). This association led to Lyle composing the music for DINNER FOR FIVE, a show hosted by and starring Jon Favreau for the Independent Film Channel. Lyle wrote several pieces of music for the Will Ferrell film KICKING AND SCREAMING.
On July 2, 2005 Lyle performed in Sting’s group for Live 8 and in the following summer toured throughout Europe.
Another solo record is in progress – look for a 2007 release.Beginning in the late '80s with his own group, Bourgeois Tagg, Lyle Workman has pushed the limits of what could be expected of a modern guitarist. Although an instrumental album, it would be a mistake to say that Purple Passages is a solo guitar record. Workman's tuneful orchestration takes the listener on a joyous trip, so intoxicating that vocals are not missed.