On is the fifteenth release
for pianist Bobby Lyle and his first for the Heads Up label.
The follow-up to his double disc release Straight
and Smooth which featured smooth jazz on one
disc and classic jazz on the other. The 12 songs here showcase
ten original compositions as well as two covers. Lyle considers Hands
On "a contemporary celebration of love,
life and rhythm. Within the twelve songs there are expressions
of all of those things. I wanted the overall tone of the
record to be funky and upbeat, but with romantic interludes."
“Passion Drive” gets the ball rolling with an up-tempo funky beat
that features Lyle’s piano “driving” over a multi-layered
back beat. His keys are light as he tickles the ivories in sweeping runs and
trills that he’s so well-known for. He brings it back in for the chorus
and plays it close to the rest of the band. “Best of My Love” is
a remake of the 70s classic that keeps things humming right along. There are
parts that sound remarkably similar to the original before Lyle lets loose
on piano again. The title track reminds me a lot of some of his earlier work.
The piano is light and riff inspired that modulates into a sax-induced chorus.
You’ll be hearing this on the radio for sure.
Special guest artist and friend Peabo Bryson co-wrote and
sings on “Lost In Our Love.” Says Lyle, “I’ve
always admired his work and he’s a first class crooner.
He’s so professional and easy to work with.” This
is the lone vocal on the disc and it sure delivers. “Fancy
Pants” picks up the pace again with more of the same
type funky background layers and keyboard work that we heard
on the first track. There’s some nice muted trumpet
from Larry Spencer as well as a great sax solo from Dave
Caseras. Throw in another solo from guitarist Brennen Nase,
and you’ve got a classic in the making. “Poinciana” is
a rich romantic cut that is heavy with chord work that contrasts
the light piano riffs and acoustic guitar solo. “Minute
by Minute” is a remake of the Doobie Brothers classic
and the delivery reminds me of Larry Carlton’s version
a few years back.
“True Spirit” is one of those tunes that Lyle’s
fans long for. It showcases the talents of this pianist like
none of the previous cuts have. The verses are introspective
while leading to an inspiring chorus. This one is simple,
but it delivers. The mood changes to Latin on “El Paquito” as
Lyle’s simple keys give way to a bass-driven salsa
beat. They play off each other well. “Take A Step” slows
the pace back down for some syncopated action from the piano
as well as Joe Vincelli’s alto. The set finishes up
with an acoustic number entitled “Beth.” The
chords are strong and inspiring. It’s an excellent
way to finish the disc.
There’s always something about a Bobby Lyle disc that
makes me feel good. His delivery is always light and positive
as he tickles the keyboards while commanding power chords
at the same time. Hands On is no
exception and there’s a lot here for everyone to enjoy. “With
this record, I’m going back to a more contemporary
feel, but still I’m incorporating jazz elements,” says
Lyle. Be sure to check it out soon.
- Harvey Cline