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Album Review

Will Lyle: L.A. Source Codes


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Will Lyle: L.A. Source Codes
For computer programmers, a source code is a piece of computer language, which they are able to read and transfer and put to use in a practical way. With his debut album, L.A. Source Codes, bassist Will Lyle makes a connection between this concept and jazz. As with computer programming, jazz has its own language, and learning the language of jazz can be somewhat challenging. A skilled player, however, can take musical "source codes," such as chords, scales and arpeggios, and transform them into music.

Lyle, who was born in 1994, started playing bass when he was 12. In the years since he has created a pretty impressive résumé. After his graduation from Berklee College of Music, he went on to play with numerous artists, including Jon Mayer, Bob Sheppard and Joshua Breakstone to name a few. He also received a presidential scholarship to study bass with legendary bassist, Ron Carter.

L.A. Source Codes brings musicians from three different generations to the recording. Dedicated to the memory of Lyle's mentor, Ralph Peterson, the album includes several jazz standards along with some original compositions. While the selections vary in jazz styles ranging from straight-ahead and Latin to modern, the album definitely has a sense of unity throughout. Lyle is joined here by ten different musicians, essentially forming three different groups. The players include Bob Sheppard on tenor saxophone; Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Roy McCurdy and Anthony Fung on drums; pianists Jon Mayer, Mahesh Balasooriya, Mikan Zlatkovich, and Adam Hersh; Nakeiltha Nikki Campbelll on congas; and Jacques Lesure on guitar.

The up-tempo opener, "Forasteria," which is a Lyle original, sets the tone of the album. It features a Brazilian groove combined with some Cedar Walton influences. The word forasteria means outsider in Portuguese, and the song represents the feelings of alienation that practically everyone experiences at one time or another. The song's driving beat and tight groove offers a sense of overcoming obstacles to experience the joy and optimism life has to offer.

L.A. Source Codes includes a good deal of impressive musicianship throughout. While each of the players on the album gets a chance to shine, the bottom line here (no pun intended) is Lyle's bass work. There are instances, such as Frank Loesser's "I Believe in You" and George Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" where Lyle plays the melody line. He also takes several impressive solos throughout the album, showcasing his talent as a player.

Along with his musical skills, this album also shows that Lyle is a talented composer as well. The originals included are not simply melodies, but each their own musical story. "rains_of_change," for example, transitions from its melodic beginning into a somewhat freeform structure that ultimately returns to the original melody, which seems to reflect going through and overcoming a challenging situation. "La Cumbia de MacArthur Park" celebrates L.A.'s Central American community with powerful rhythms and Adam Hersh's exceptional work on the piano. The atmospheric "Above the Clouds" creates a dreamlike landscape somewhat reminiscent of some ECM recordings.

L.A. Source Codes is an impressive debut album that brings a variety of music and musicians that have influenced Lyle's own playing and writing. Lyle's talent is impressive, and this album shows how effectively he can transform the "source code" into something very satisfying.

Track Listing

Forasteira; Above The Clouds; Be My Love; So in Love; Two for the Road; rains_of_change; La Cumbia de MacArthur Park; No. 1 Green Street; I Believe in You; It Ain't Necessarily So; You Stepped Out of A Dream


Will Lyle: bass, acoustic; Bob Sheppard: saxophone, tenor; Marvin "Smitty" Smith: drums; Mahesh Balasooriya: piano; Jon Mayer: piano; Roy McCurdy: drums; Jacques Lesure: guitar; Anthony Fung: drums; Mikan Zlatkovich: piano; Nakeiltha Nikki Campbell: congas; Adam Hersh: piano.

Album information

Title: L.A. Source Codes | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced

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