For more than thirty years Bobby Lyle has been a lightening rod in contemporary jazz; however, achieving widespread recognition in the United States has been moderately slow to say the least. But across the board internationally, Bobby has an exceptional reputation as one of the most charismatic and dynamic keyboardists around today. Lyle’s versatility on the piano is amazing and anyone within earshot of his music has become an instant fan. His latest release on the Heads Up International Record Label entitled Hands On sets the stage for widespread acceptance, as well as another successful excursion into the annals of contemporary jazz.
First and foremost Bobby Lyle’s longevity over the years is due in part to his ability to adjust to the varying trends in jazz and readily bounce back from adverse situations he has encountered during his career. He has served as musical director for Al Jarreau, Beth Midler and Anita Baker and has been highly touted as a leader in his own right. But for whatever the reason, which includes some record labels and mainstream media not recognizing his unique talent, Bobby Lyle has not achieved the prominence he deserves as one of the finest keyboardists in contemporary jazz. With this debut release for Heads Up, Hands On is a CD that will definitely push Lyle back into the hierarchy of an impressive array of music.
When examining Bobby Lyle’s previous releases, his endearing quality has always been his embrace of many multi-faceted musical styles. At various times, Bobby can be funky and upbeat, as well as melodic and soulful. His ability to weave his way in and out of contemporary and straight ahead jazz is poetic. Hands On follows that same pattern with 12 tracks of original tunes and memorable cover songs. In fact, this release is best described as "a contemporary celebration of love, life and rhythm." As one of the genre’s premier songwriters, Bobby can easily translate his acoustic piano skills into an intuitive embrace of emotional acceptance.
Hands On kicks off with "Passion Drive", a track that immediately highlights Bobby’s funk-oriented groove patterns. His sophisticated rhythm, coupled with a spontaneous underlying cool is quite evident throughout this recording. Other tracks, which have been drawn from any number of musical classics, include "Poinciana", "Best of My Love", "Minute By Minute" and "Fancy Pants" are testaments to Bobby’s arranging skills. One of the more intriguing songs is a tune entitled "Beth", a track inspired by a very special person in Lyle’s life. If you have ever witnessed the chemistry between Bobby and this very unique relationship, you will find this track speaks volumes about their sentiment for one another. In addition, listen for Peabo Bryson who co-wrote "Lost In Our Love", a track that is made for a romantic interlude. In the final analysis, I can say that Bobby Lyle has outdone himself with the release of this truly perfectly correct piece of work.Having been a fan of Bobby Lyle’s for many years, I always found his music to be one of the highlights in contemporary jazz. In my mind, his ability to reinvent himself and adapt to jazz’s ever-evolving trends has often amazed me. Since discovering his music 10 years ago, I have exposed myself to at least eight of his 14 previous releases; Hands On marks his 15th overall. What I have found in practically every instance is consistency in approach and an amazingly intuitive creative spirit, one that will continue to mesmerize his endearing cadre of fans and any number of newly found embracers of his music. Jazz beginners and connoisseurs alike will find Hands On to be an exceptional addition to any musical collection.