Although he is better known for fusion and pop sessions, pianist Bobby Lyle is a competent instrumentalist on mainstream and bebop fare. He handles the melodies well and improvises effectively throughout this '85 set. While he will never be McCoy Tyner or Herbie Hancock, Lyle demonstrates a more varied approach and harmonic creativity than on any of his more commercial dates. But this date's instrumental star is bassist Stanley Clarke; whether it is his rippling accompaniment or his full, huge solos, Clarke justifies his reputation.
On this CD, Bobby Lyle's acoustic piano is featured with strings, with several different rhythm sections, backing two throwaway vocals, unaccompanied on "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Fly Away Spirit," and even jamming during a straightahead "Blues for Dexter" with tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. During practically every piece, Lyle spends part of the time seemingly attempting to overcome his surroundings. If he would drop the heavy baggage (especially the strings, the unnecessary singers and the dull drumming), Lyle could create some significant jazz. As it is, The Journey is much better than expected and fairly enjoyable.
Michael McDonald brings his classic songs and legendary vocals to the Soundstage studios in Chicago. Taped before a live audience, McDonald performs his classics, plus new material from his just-released project "Wide Open".