Sadly, genuine jazz-rock fusion became harder to find in the 1980s, when so many young jazzmen seemed to feel that their two main options were hard bop and post-bop or crossover/NAC music. But fusion was something that drummer/educator Steve Rucker greatly encouraged at the University of Miami, where his band Active Ingredient recorded its first album, Building Houses, in 1988. Serving as producer but not doing any actual playing, Rucker turns the spotlight on young fusionists and Miami students Pete Gallio (tenor sax), Scott Smith (electric guitar), Dennis Marks (electric bass), Rob Dominis (keyboards) and Marty Beller (drums). No elevator music is heard, and spontaneity is the rule on such impressive offerings as the mysterious "Men In White," the contemplative "Blues for Old New Age" and the insistent title song. At a time when more and more faceless Kenny G imitators were making their presence felt on commercial radio, this CD reminded the jazz world how exciting real jazz-rock could be.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson