Over the years, Bobby Lyle's work has been erratic. The pianist/keyboardist has recorded his share of gems, but he has come out with some disappointing, very uneven albums as well. One of Lyle's stronger releases was Genie, his debut LP from 1977. Produced by Wayne Henderson, this is primarily a fusion/crossover jazz effort. A young Lyle shows considerable promise on electric gems that include the imaginative title track, the congenial "Pisces," the North African-influenced "Mother Nile," and the haunting "Night Breeze" (which was also recorded by Ronnie Laws in the 1970s). Not everything on Genie is fusion or crossover jazz. "You Think of Her" and "Magic Ride" are vocal funk/soul items that find Lyle singing lead; he isn't mind-blowing as a singer, but he's decent. And Lyle detours into straight-ahead jazz with an unaccompanied solo piano performance of the standard "I Didn't Know What Time It Was." Nonetheless, R&B vocals and acoustic jazz aren't the things that Genie is best known for -- instrumental fusion and crossover jazz are what caused this LP to go down in history as an electric jazz favorite. Genie falls short of perfect -- the record would have been even stronger if Lyle had stuck to instrumental music, which is his specialty. But much of the album is excellent, and Genie frequently reminds us how much promise Lyle showed in the beginning.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson