the name of the group
Spyro Gyra is a little cryptic
they are one of the most popular contemporary jazz group. Morning
Dance, released in 1979, became a Top 40 single hit and proved to
be their breakout song. But this famous song isn't characteristic for
the sophistic style of the group. The Calypso-inspired track is still
in heavy rotation on contemporary charts, but after 11 million sold
records we know that there is a Spyro Gyra world beyond Morning
2001 Spyro Gyra signed
with Heads Up International. In the following period the group
released In Modern Times (2001), Original Cinema (2003) The
Deep End (2004) and Wrapped In A Dream (2006). "We've
always had this belief that the thing we're doing in any given moment
is the best we've ever done," says Jay Beckenstein. "And we
always want to maintain that philosophy, because that's what drives us
forward. We haven't succumbed to the mentality of 'Let's just play the
hits and collect the check.' We never saw ourselves as a pop band.
We've always seen ourselves as a forward thinking creative outfit.
After 30 years, it's still very interesting and exciting." This
motto in mind we approach Spyro Gyra's new album Good To Go-Go
with great anticipation.
Pleasures opens the musical landscape of the new album. Embedded
in a sophisticated horn arrangement and main theme penned by Jay
Beckenstein we explore Tom Schuman's excellent keyboard and Julio
Fernandez' gravy guitar solo.
Busy Jay Beckenstein tootles his soprano sax in breathtaking
tempo. In the second part of the song Scott Ambush shimmers on the
bass. A new drummer and percussionist has joined the band, a real enrichment: Bonny B (short for Bonaparte). The Trinidad born has
toured with the group for several months and his chops are comparable
with Paulhino Da Costa or Harvey Mason. Jay Beckenstein
said of the new face in the band's line-up: "The fact that we had
this new drummer with this great spirit about him prompted us to go in
the direction of a more live-sounding, less produced record. The band
was just sounding so killer on the road that I wanted to capture some
of that energy and reproduce it on the record. When you bring somebody
new on board who's bringing some unexpected things with him, it shakes
you up a little bit and puts you in new territory. It's been a process
of discovery for all of us, and it's been a lot of fun."
B cannot only perform drums and percussion. He brings an exotic flavor
into the group with his raw scat singing. The reggae tune Jam Up
speaks for his great multifaceted talent. Also onboard is Andy Narell
performing his steel pans.
Left Bank is featuring anew Jay Beckenstein on a catchy melody
with Tom Schuman's nice piano running and as surprising guest-musician
Christian Howes (violin). Christian
Howes has received numerous acclaims for his unique contribution to
the largely unforged field of jazz violin as well as his performances
as an improvising violinist of standard jazz, jazz fusion, blues,
bluegrass, classical, folk, pop and rock 'n' roll music within various
Dog is a funky burner. The high tempo given by Bonny B on snare is
the pushing element for Jay Beckenstein's sax solo. Into the acceleration
of the tune perfectly fits Julio Fernandez' guitar riffs.
there be a greater contrast to the next tune? Along For The Ride
is the stuff that dreams are made of. An epic theme with much space
for Jay Beckenstein's eloquent story on his sax.
energetic calypso Island Time is featuring anew Andy Narell on
steel pans. It's superficial to just reduce the song to a funny
holiday tune. Here are jazz masters at work. Encore!
is a tune reminding at Stanley Clarke or "Panther" Marcus
Miller but it's an Ambush on bass. The staccato of the slap bass joins
Julio Fernandez' crazy guitar. Above all rules Jay's sax.
uptempo Easy Street is another testimonial for Jay
Beckenstein's and Tom Schuman's breathtaking mastership.
so much tempo it's beneficial to listen to a contemplative tune like A
is back on the title song Good To Go-Go. The tune penned by
Ambush bases on a syncopated rhythm designed for Bobby B's drums. Tom
Schuman shines on Hammond B3. There are so many special moments in the
interaction of the band members.
tops the previous tempo to showcase that the group has no limit.
listener who has the slightest affection for contemporary jazz will
become an ardent fan after listening to this album. There is no space
for retreat. Honestly!