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Hands On

Bobby Lyle

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Album Review

Nearly 30 years and 15 albums deep into one of contemporary jazz's most consistently melodic and funky careers, Bobby Lyle continues to take a Hands On approach to creating a perfect balance of elegance and groove. On his Heads Up debut, the versatile pianist — who has been musical director for Bette Midler, Al Jarreau, and Anita Baker, et al., between solo projects — is intent on grabbing the listener right away with three jamming and danceable, synth brass-flavored tracks that also lightly showcase his inventive and playful sense of improvisation. He sandwiches a gleeful, bouncy version of the familiar disco hit "Best of My Love" with the seductive "Passion Drive" and the title cut, on which Lyle floats a light-on-its-feet melody over thoroughly modern crunchy, thumping beats. Amidst this rhythmic overdrive are a handful of cuts that perfectly capture Lyle's trademark romantic vibe: the balmy, tropically tinged "Poinciana," the reflective closer "Beth" (which showcases his sweet ivory magic at its most poignant), and "Lost in Love," an irresistible ballad written and performed by Lyle and the always captivating Peabo Bryson. Longtime Lyle fans will also enjoy the heavy mix of old-school synth and acoustic piano on "Return of the Genie," which recalls the cool vibe of his debut album, The Genie. It's a perfect way to chart his growth as an artist over the years and to show that the charm was there from the beginning.

Biography

Born: 1945 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A flexible pianist and keyboardist, Bobby Lyle has long straddled the boundaries between straight-ahead and more commercial forms of jazz. He grew up in Minneapolis and at age six took piano lessons from his mother, who was a church organist. Lyle played clarinet for a period in junior high school before switching back to piano. He considers Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, and Art Tatum to have been his early influences. Lyle's first gig was when he was 16 and, after two years...
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Hands On, Bobby Lyle
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