In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it seemed as though Active Ingredient had the potential to become the Jazz Messengers of fusion. In fact, the band's concept was similar to that of drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers -- lineups would change, and the idea was to feature young, undiscovered talent rather than established artists. One key difference, however, was the fact that unlike Blakey, Ingredient leader/producer Steve Rucker didn't actually play on his band's albums. A drummer who played around South Florida a lot, Rucker founded Ingredient at the University of Miami (where he was a faculty member) in 1987. Having boasted such talented alumni as Pat Metheny, Danny Gottlieb, Mark Egan and the late Jaco Pastorius, The University's jazz program had a reputation for being very fusion-friendly. Ingredient came to be known as the "Fusion Ensemble" on campus and was comprised of Rucker's students. The band debuted on Bainbridge with 1988's Building Houses, followed by Extra Strength in 1990. Being "The Jazz Messengers of Fusion" (this critic's words, not Rucker's) was a wonderful idea, but unfortunately, Ingredient never became as well-known nationally as it deserved to be.