Leroy Burgess, Stuart Bascombe, and Russell Patterson were Black Ivory, an exceptional and occasionally brilliant soul group from Harlem that recorded throughout the '70s and returned sporadically during the decades following. The trio developed out of the late '60s as a group called the Mellow Souls and were eventually taken under the wing of Patrick Adams. Adams had been in a group called the Sparks, but he developed his skills as a songwriter, arranger, and producer with Black Ivory. Adams scraped together all the money he possibly could in order to have the group record their first single, "Don't Turn Around." Adams took the demo to several unimpressed labels before hitting Today Records.
When Bill Evans agreed to do a two piano date with Bob Brookmeyer, eyebrows surely must have raised. Pairing a rising superstar of modern jazz with a gentleman known for playing valve trombone and arranging charts might have been deemed by some as a daunting task. Fortunately for the keyboardists, this was a good idea and a marvelous concept, where the two could use the concept of counterpoint and improvisation to an enjoyable means, much like a great chess match. For the listener, you are easily able to hear the difference between ostensible leader Evans in the right channel of the stereo separation, and the accompanist Brookmeyer in the left.
The title says it all - this is an absolutely dreamlike collection of tunes, both funky and straight ahead, written and performed by a masterful ivory tickler. After an illustrious career as mostly a sideman and/or musical director for R&B biggies like Anita Baker and Al Jarreau, this release established Lyle as a solo star, and rightfully so. Lyle's R&B background is more than apparent on the best of these eight cuts like Baker's "Been So Long," the funky "Loco-motion," and the airplay winner "Tropical."