Harmonic Crusader


In 2009, one of the most innovative electric guitarists in America today, Lyle Workman released the long awaited follow-up to his 2000 album Tabula Rasa. Similar in scope to that album, 2009’s Harmonic Crusader once again features an album of sonic guitar soundscapes ranging from experimental, orchestral film score inspired epics to full blown instrumental rock-jazz workouts. Produced, engineered, written and arranged by Workman, Harmonic Crusader finds the guitarist kicking ass in the studio alongside guest players including drummers Vinnie Colauita, U.K. drumming legend Simon Phillips, Gary Novak and Matt Laug, who simply shines on a CD closing, Group 87 / Steve Howe inspired fusion march called “Big Reveal.” When he’s not recording his noble rock instrumental epics, Workman will more than likely be found composing for a variety of film scores, including his work on The 40 Year Old Virgin score from 2005 and more recently Superbad, Yes Man and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (of the four, three were #1 box office hits.) Coming from a rock background, having also played his guitar for icons like Todd Rundgren and the L.A. pop wunderkind Jellyfish, Workman’s approach to jazz-rock is very eclectic to say the least but he doesn’t sound very influenced by more mainstream jazz or rock and roll per se. But for an unexpected change of pace from Lyle, do check out the Le Hot Gypsy Jazz influence on track 9 “Ode To The Gypsy King.” Django would approve!

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Musical Background

I started playing guitar when I was 9 years old, learning basic open chords from my dad who strummed as a hobby. I quickly heard the same chords on Beatles records and on the radio, and started to teach myself songs. I refined my ear by learning all kinds of music throughout my formative years, eventually enrolling in a junior college for two years study of music theory and composition. My first appearance on record was on Mike Varney's U.S. Metal, which is misleading because I was never a shredder metal guitar player, but it was fun for a first timer! Later on I joined a band, Bourgeois Tagg, and we recorded a few records for Island. We had a decent hit single, “I Don’t Mind At All”, off the second album, which was produced by Todd Rundgren. The group disbanded and subsequently I recorded and toured in Todd's band for two years. I recorded with the S.F. Bay Area band Jellyfish for their second record, Split Milk. I started working with drumming legend Tony Williams, writing some music and later contributing a track to his last record. Next began nearly five years with Frank Black on the road and on record. Around that time I moved to Los Angeles and also started more session work. I recorded with artists Sheryl Crow, Shakira, Jacob Dylan and many others. I toured as a member Sting's band for a summer tour, beginning with "Live 8" in 2005. Around that time I began scoring films and presently that is the focus of my work.

New CD

In all my CDs, and my newest, Harmonic Crusader, I suppose all of my past influences culminate, regardless of the genre, so it's difficult to classify and categorize this music. My primary goal when I write is for every piece to stand up melodically and compositionally, completely independent of the guitar. I never think about what I'm trying to present as a guitarist. I only serve the music the best I can and I revere guitar equally as much as any other instrument. On my CD besides guitar, drums, bass, piano, and organ, there are several other instruments. There is one piece that's purely orchestral with strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. There are a few tracks featuring drummers—both Simon Phillips and Gary Novak take drum solos. There's also a good dose of keyboardist Jeff Babko, who is outstanding, and an organ solo by Larry Goldings who is out of the world talented. As far as my guitar playing on Harmonic Crusader, it covers many bases—epic solos, ambient textures, ebow choirs, processed loops, a track in the style of Django Reinhardt, Brian May style broken up chords played as single lines . There's a lot of variety. I recorded for the most part in my home studio, but tracked nearly all of the drums elsewhere. Vinnie Colaiuta was recorded in his studio, Simon in his studio, Gary Novak at Sunset Sound in Hollywood. Some songs have several layers of guitars, keys, and an assorted instruments, all tracked in my home studio. This record was in progress for eight years due to my busy work in film scoring and other recording sessions and touring, so it took a while for me to gather enough free time to complete it.

Favorite Guitars

I used many guitars—a ‘58 reissue Les Paul, ‘63 Fender Strat, ‘72 Fender Thinline, Hamer Monaco, Fender Baritone Tele (a "Bajo sexto"), ‘56 Martin D-18, ‘53 Gibson LG-2, ‘59 ES-335, ‘55 Fender Tele. Amps—Marshall ‘69 100 watt, Marshall ‘72 50 watt, Divided by 13 37+ and RSA 23, Fender Princeton Reverb. Effects—Line 6 DL4, Line 6 MM4. Guyatone MD3 delay, Moog "Murf" and EBS Multi-comp compressor. Strings are D'Addario .10 to .46. Some solos have a dose of Soundtoys "Echo Boy" plug-in for delay (I tracked onto Pro Tools).

Musical Influences

Certainly The Beatles, especially Sgt. Pepper and post records. As a young teen, like most all players of my generation, I was bowled over by Hendrix - Band Of Gypsies, Electric Ladyland, The Who Live at Leeds, Who's Next. A little later on I was crazy over Mahavishnu Orchestra -Birds of Fire, Johnny Mc Laughlin, Electric Guitarist. Genesis Selling England by The Pound. Yes - Yessongs, Close to the Edge. Jeff Beck - Blow By Blow, Wired, There and Back. Narada Michael Walden was influential especially as a writer and, on a few of his records guitarist Ray Gomez is featured, another favorite. Steve Morse and The Dixie Dregs made a big impact- What If, Unsung Heroes. I also listened to John Scofield and Pat Metheny. On the pop side I loved The Police, pretty much all of their records, and was a huge fan of Peter Gabriel’s solo records. Loving orchestral textures in pop I loved ELO On The Third Day and Eldorado. I listened to Weather Report - especially Heavy Weather, Black Market. I wanted to hear who influenced the bands and musicians I was listening to, so that's how I discovered Django, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, George Benson, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Son House, and many more. My favorite of the younger generation of jazz guitarists is Kurt Rosenwinkel; he's astounding.

Upcoming Plans

More film work. The Goods comes out in August, and Get Him to the Greek, a spin off of sorts of Forgetting Sarah Marshall sometime next year. Session wise I'm slated to record on a Norah Jones record in late July. I'm hoping to start another record soon.

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