In 1980, guitarist and composer Eric Gale came off the commercial success of 1979's Part of You (produced by Ralph MacDonald) and didn't do the obvious thing. Rather than make another record that swung for the smooth jazz fences, he made a darker, deeper, funkier, and bluesier album with legendary New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint. The sessions included the cream of the Crescent City's jazz-funk crop as well as mates Charlie Earland, Grover Washington, Jr., and Idris Muhammad, three of soul-jazz's greatest lights – with special guest Arthur Blythe on the Charlie Parker nugget "Au Privave" as a curve ball. Toussaint wrote four of the album's seven tracks, and they range from the murky blue soul-jazz of "You Got My Life in Your Hands" to the sweet, boudoir-perfect urban-styled title track.
The elegant funk pianist dresses up his elegant playing, catchy melodies and familiar funk leanings with rhythmic excursions to Latin America, Brazil and Africa. A sticker on the wrapping of the disc touts the pianist as one of the true pioneers of smooth jazz, but that tag oversimplifies his uniquely global approach.
Touch of Class was an American soul and R&B musical group from Philadelphia featuring four members: the brothers Gerald Jackson and Pete Jackson, as well as Herbert Brevard and Michael Hailstock. The band was active from the mid-1970s until mid-1980s recording for Midland International Records and affiliated RCA label and had a hit with their debut "I'm in Heaven" reaching #65 on Billboard Hot 100. It was also the title of their debut studio album. By 1979, Michael Hailstock had left to concentrate on songwriting and the band turned into a trio. Their second album, the self-titled Touch of Class included their version of "Turn the Beat Around", a song written by Gerald and Pete Jackson and recorded by Vicki Sue Robinson in 1976 that gained big recognition and a big hit for her. the song is considered a dance/disco classic. It was also re-recorded by Laura Branigan in 1990 and by Gloria Estefan in 1994.