Bobby Lyle

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Bobby Lyle
Nationality United States of America
Genres jazz
Instruments piano · musical keyboard

Bobby Lyle
BornMarch 11, 1944 (1944-03-11) (age 78)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresJazz, soul jazz, smooth jazz

Robert Lyle (born March 11, 1944) is a jazz pianist/organist and educator.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Lyle was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 11, 1944 to parents Robert and Elise Lyle. He grew up in a musical household after the family moved from Memphis to Minneapolis when Lyle was age 1. He showed an early aptitude for music with his mother being his first piano teacher. By junior high school he was playing clarinet and flute in the band as well as continuing piano lessons. He had already started playing jazz by ear, and by the time he attended Central High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota he came to the attention of drummer Harry Dillon who hired him to play in his trio at a private club in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lyle was 16 years old and this was his first professional gig. After graduating from Central High Lyle attended Macalester College in St. Paul where he studied piano for two years under Donald Betts. He then left to become a full time musician. He was soon hired by ex Ramsey Lewis bandmates Red Holt (drums) and ElDee Young (bass) to begin touring the national jazz club circuit as the Young-Holt Trio Unlimited.

Later life and career[edit | edit source]

Lyle's first recording opportunity came about as the result of winning an International organ competition sponsored by the Yamaha Music Corporation in 1973. The album, Bobby Lyle Plays the Electone GX707 was released in 1974 and became the first piece in a long career discography. The GX707 was the forerunner of Yamaha's pared down DX7 which ushered in a new era of portable keyboard synthesizers. That same year (1974) Lyle with wife Delores and two young sons in tow made the move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, Ca. to pursue a music career in earnest. Through a friend he was introduced to Sylvester Stewart and after a brief audition was touring with Sly and the Family Stone for the rest of the year. Following this engagement Lyle met Trombonist and co-founder of the Jazz Crusaders Wayne Henderson. Henderson was producing Ronnie Laws at the time and put the two of them together in the studio. Eventually Lyle was touring with Laws. Henderson then took Lyle's demo to VP of A&R at Capitol Records Larkin Arnold and secured him a record deal which resulted in three albums, the first of which was the classic "The Genie" in 1977. Capitol eventually dropped their jazz division. During this period in the early 80's Lyle toured with George Benson then became musical director for iconic singers Phyllis Hyman, Bette Midler (with whom he received an Emmy nomination for musical direction after her HBO special 'Diva Las Vegas' in 1999), Al Jarreau, and Anita Baker. After a live audition for Atlantic Records VP of A&R Sylvia Rhone in 1987, she signed him to a deal which spawned six albums in nine years (see discography). Then followed three albums on independent labels: 'Joyful'and 'Straight and Smooth' for Three Keys, and 'Hands On' for the Heads Up label. In 2013 Lyle started his own label "New Warrior Music" to go with his Genie Productions company. Under this banner he produced and released a tribute to his Hammond B-3 idol Jimmy Smith called 'The Way I Feel'. He was also ramping up his career as a jazz piano instructor and practitioner of master classes in colleges and High schools. Currently Lyle is gearing up for the March 2021 release of his album 'Ivory Flow'--a return to the contemporary/smooth genre he helped to pioneer. The single, 'Living In The Flow' is already active at radio.

Discography[edit | edit source]

Title Year Label
Bobby Lyle Plays 1974 CBS Japan The GX 1
The Genie 1977 Capitol
New Warrior 1978 Capitol
Night Fire 1979 Capitol
Night Breeze 1985 Evidence
Ivory Dreams 1989 Atlantic
The Journey 1990 Atlantic
Pianomagic 1991 Atlantic
Secret Island 1992 Atlantic
Best of Bobby Lyle 1993 Blue Note/Capitol
Rhythm Stories 1994 Atlantic
Power of Touch 1997 Atlantic
Joyful 2002 Three Keys
Straight and Smooth 2004 Three Keys
Hands On 2006 Heads Up

As sideman[edit | edit source]

With George Benson

With Benny Golson

With Eddie Harris

With Pharoah Sanders and Norman Connors

With Gábor Szabó

References[edit | edit source]