BL: Because this was such a “hands on” project (both laughing) literally, I did a lotta stuff myself from drum programming to word playing to vocal background arranging. I mean, I did a lot of stuff on this, so from that standpoint it’s very personal.
Smitty: Was that sort of an eye-opening experience for you to do some of those things that you hadn’t done before and working with equipment, perhaps, that you haven’t worked with before?
BL: Yeah, the whole thing of Pro Tools, which has kinda become the weapon of choice for people making music these days. I actually hired a gentleman here in Houston to come out and give me tutoring on how to use it because I’ve never been known as a really technical type musician. (Laughs.)
BL: So that was money well spent because I really get it to the point where I can work without an engineer being here. From talking to several other musicians, that inspirational song or idea can come at any time. You have to be able to begin and tap in to it when it’s there, even if it is two or three o’clock in the morning.
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely, and you wanna seize that moment.
BL: Yeah, because you don’t wanna wake up in the morning and say “What the heck was that brilliant thing I was thinking about?” (Both laughing.) By that time it’s usually too late.
Smitty: Yes indeed. This record, it’s called Hands On, and when I first got it I said “You know, this is true Bobby Lyle.” I said to myself “He’s got the threads on and he’s styling, I know this is gonna be good.” When I looked at some of the key players on this record, I just couldn’t wait to kick it in the changer and get it on. You’ve got some home cookin’ with Brennen Nase and Dave Caseras and that’s a beautiful thing.
BL: Oh yeah, had to get some of my Houston posse in there.
Smitty: And Larry Kimpel, I mean, this is great music. I really like the opening track. I think it was so fitting to do “Passion Drive” because it really displayed your great skills on the piano and keyboards and all of that, and it’s a great song to open the record because it just sets the tone.
BL: Oh, well, thank you. That’s the one that Heads Up has chosen, I guess, to be the first single that they send out as well.
BL: So hopefully we’ll hear it start to show up on some of these Smooth Jazz stations around the country.
Smitty: Oh, I’m sure, I’m totally sure because it’s a kickin’ record and I love Dave Caseras’ sax work on this one. He’s a great sax player to start with.
BL: Yeah, he did some really nice playing. His solo on the tune called “Fancy Pants” is just a classic solo.
Smitty: Yes indeed.
BL: And he actually tried to do it again and I said “No, man, you got it that first time,” but I always let guys do as many takes as they want, but I can usually feel the one that’s gonna work and he definitely had it on his first pass.
Smitty: Yeah, isn’t it something about that first pass because I think that there’s a subconsciousness that is just….it is in its own zone.
BL: Yeah, a lot of that is like instinctual. Instinctual before you have a chance to really start getting too cerebral with it.
Smitty: Yes, absolutely. It’s sort of an unrehearsed reaction.
BL: To what’s happening in the track. That’s true.
Smitty: I love that and I’m hearing that more and more from cats coming out of the studio. “The first take was it,” “We hit it, we nailed it, and we said ‘Let’s go have a drink.’” (Both laughing.)
BL: That’s right, go celebrate that one.
Smitty: Yeah, you know? And this is a celebration for you, this record, I’m sure, because you can feel that whole celebratory vibe with this record, and I’m sure you have reasons to celebrate. You have a new record deal and this was sort of like a coming out once again for doing a Contemporary Jazz record.
BL: Well, thank you. I was feeling that as well as the other more tender moments. I like to call this a celebration of life, love and rhythm because it seems to cover those three spaces.
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely. And talk to me about “Take A Step.” You’ve got Joe Vincelli on there, man. (Laughs.)
BL: Oh, you know Joe?
Smitty: Yes, Joe is such a cool cat.