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Spyro Gyra

Founded in 1974 by saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, Spyro Gyra have consistently been one of the commercially successfully pop-jazz groups of the past 30 years. The band became a full-time venture in 1976 and has been touring ever since. Critics love to attack this band's music, which combines R&B and elements of pop and Caribbean music with jazz, but its live performances are often stimulating -- unlike many of its records, which emphasize the danceable melodies.

The roots of Spyro Gyra lay in Buffalo, NY, in 1974. Beckenstein and his longtime friend, keyboardist Jeremy Wall, had been leading a group with a revolving membership; every one of the many members in the band were loosely involved in the local jazz and rock scenes. Around 1974, the group was beginning to gel and cultivate a following. A club owner who wanted to advertise an upcoming appearance by the band asked Beckenstein for the group's name. The saxophonist told him "Spirogyra," a word he learned in a college biology course. The owner misspelled the word as Spyro Gyra, and the band fell into place, featuring Beckenstein, Wall, Jim Kurzdorfer, and Tom Walsh. Not long afterward, the group added keyboardist Tom Schuman. Electric guitarist Chet Catallo, drummer Eli Konikoff, and percussionist Gerardo Velez all joined in 1978 (with Wall dropping out) and bassist David Wofford was added in 1980.

Spyro Gyra independently funded and recorded their debut album, releasing the record on the local independent label Amherst in 1976. The record slowly became a success and Amherst sold the rights to the band to Infinity Records, a division of MCA. Wall left the band in 1978, leaving Schuman as the group's main keyboardist. Morning Dance, their first album for Infinity, was released in 1979. The record became a major hit, spawning a Top 40 single with "Morning Dance" and going platinum. Morning Dance firmly placed Spyro Gyra as one of the most popular artists in contemporary jazz, and throughout the '80s, their popularity continued growing. Their albums were consistent best-sellers, and their concerts often sold out. In 1983, vibraphonist and marimba player Dave Samuels -- who had played on several of the group's albums -- became a full-fledged member of the band. Over the course of the '80s, the membership of Spyro Gyra fluctuated, but Beckenstein and Schuman remained at its core, keeping the group's signature sound intact.

In 1990, MCA's jazz roster was absorbed by GRP, so Spyro Gyra switched labels, releasing Fast Forward, their first album for GRP, later that year. In 1993, Samuels left the touring band, but he continued to play in the studio. By the late '90s, the band featured Beckenstein, Schuman, Julio Fernandez, Joel Rosenblatt, and Scott Ambush, and released Got the Magic in 1999. Two years later the band moved to the Telarc-affiliated Heads Up label and released In Modern Times in 2001, followed by Original Cinema in 2003. Drummer Rosenblatt left the band and was replaced by Ludwig Afonso for 2004's Deep End. A fourth Heads Up album, Good to Go-Go, was issued in 2007. The holiday album A Night Before Christmas followed in 2008. ~ Scott Yanow & Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Rhinebeck Sessions

1. Serious Delivery

2. Wishful Thinking

3. Not Unlike That

4. Sorbet

5. I Know What You Mingus

6. Off The Cuff

7. Clubhouse Jam

8. Odds Get Even

9. Who Knew!

x

Track List: A Foreign Affair

1. Caribe

2. Khuda

3. Sweet Ole Thang

4. Falling Walls

5. Shinjuku

6. Chileno Boys

7. Samba For Two

8. Cancao De Ninar

9. Antigua

10. Last Call

11. Dancing On Table Mountain

x

Track List: Down The Wire

1. Down The Wire

2. Unspoken

3. Not For Nothin'

4. Island Pond

5. The Tippin' Point

6. Ice Mountain

7. A Flower For Annie Jeanette

8. La Zona Rosa

9. What It Is

10. A Distant Memory

11. Make It Mine

x

Track List: Good To Go-Go

1. Simple Pleasures

2. Get Busy

3. Jam Up

4. The Left Bank

5. Funkyard Dog

6. Along For The Ride

7. Island Time

8. Wassup

9. Easy Street

10. A Winter Tale

11. Good To Go-Go

12. Newroses

x

Track List: Wrapped In A Dream

1. Spyro Time

2. Midnight Thunder

3. The Voodooyoodoo

4. Tuesday

5. Impressions Of Madrid

6. Impressions Of Toledo

7. Wrapped In A Dream

8. After The Storm

9. Walkin' Home

10. The Lowdown

11. Lil' Mono

12. Woogitybop

x

Track List: The Deep End

1. Summer Fling

2. Eastlake Shuffle

3. Monsoon

4. As You Wish

5. Joburg Jam

6. The Crossing

7. Wiggle Room

8. Wind Warriors

9. In Your Arms

10. Chippewa Street

11. Beyond The Rain

x

Track List: Original Cinema

1. Bump It Up

2. Extrovertical

3. Dream Sequence

4. Party Of Seven

5. Big Dance Number

6. Close-Up

7. Film Noir

8. Cape Town Love

9. Handheld

10. Funky Tina

11. Getaway

12. Calle Ocho

13. Flashback

x

Track List: Got The Magic

1. Silk And Satin

2. Breezeway

3. Havana Moonlight

4. Springtime Laughter

5. If You Will

6. Got The Magic

7. Teardrops

8. Pure Mood

9. Sierra

10. Love Comes

11. R.S.V.P.

x

Track List: 20/20

1. The Unwritten Letter

2. Ruled By Venus

3. 20/20

4. Three Sisters

5. Sweet Baby James

6. The Deep End

7. Together

8. Dark-Eyed Lady

9. South American Sojourn

10. Rockaway To Sunset

x

Track List: Road Scholars

1. Heart Of The Night

2. Breakfast At Igor's

3. Morning Dance

4. Shaker Song

5. Shanghai Gumbo

6. Innocent Soul

7. South American Sojourn

8. Ariana

9. De La Luz

10. Daddy's Got A New Girl Now

11. Best Friends

x

Track List: Heart Of The Night

1. Heart Of The Night

2. De La Luz

3. Westwood Moon

4. Midnight

5. Playtime

6. Surrender

7. Valentino's

8. Believe

9. As We Sleep

10. When Evening Falls

11. J Squared

x

Track List: Love & Other Obsessions

1. Lost And Found

2. Ariana

3. Serengeti

4. Fine Time To Explain

5. Third Street

6. Group Therapy

7. Horizon's Edge

8. Let's Say Goodbye

9. On Liberty Road (For South Africa)

10. Rockin' A Heart Place

11. Baby Dreams

x

Track List: Dreams Beyond Control

1. Walk The Walk

2. Patterns In The Rain

3. Breakfast At Igor's

4. Waltz For Isabel

5. South Beach

6. Send Me One Line

7. Bahia

8. Kindred Spirit

9. Birks Law

10. Same Difference

11. The Delicate Prey

x

Track List: Three Wishes

1. Pipo's Song

2. Introduction To Breathless

3. Breathless

4. Introduction To Real Time

5. Real Time

6. Jennifer's Lullaby

7. Whitewater

8. Inside Your Love

9. Nothing To Lose

10. Three Wishes

11. Gliding

12. Cabana Carioca

13. Rollercoaster

14. Three Wishes Reprise

x

Track List: Fast Forward

1. Bright Lights

2. Para Ti Latino

3. Alexandra

4. Ocean Parkway

5. Speakeasy

6. Futurephobia

7. 4md

8. Shadowplay

9. Escape Hatch

10. Tower Of Babel

x

Track List: Rites Of Summer

2. Daddy's Got A New Girl Now

3. Limelight

4. Shanghai Gumbo

5. Innocent Soul

7. Yosemite

x

Track List: Stories Without Words

1. Cayo Hueso

2. Serpentine Shelly

3. Del Corazon

4. Early Light

5. Nu Sungo

6. Chrysalis

7. Joyride

8. Pyramid

x

Track List: Alternating Currents

1. Shakedown

2. Alternating Currents

3. Taking The Plunge (For Jennifer)

4. Binky's Dream No. 6

5. Pg

6. Heartbeat

7. Mardi Gras

8. I Believe In You

9. Sunflurry

x

Track List: Freetime

1. Free Time

2. Telluride

3. Summer Strut

4. Elegy For Trane

5. Pacific Sunrise

6. Amber Dream

7. String Soup

x

Track List: Catching The Sun

1. Catching The Sun

2. Cockatoo

3. Autumn Of Our Love

4. Laser Material

5. Percolator

6. Philly

7. Lovin' You (Interlude) / Lovin' You

8. Here Again

9. Safari

x

Track List: Carnaval

1. Cafe Amore

2. Dizzy

3. Awakening

4. Cashaca

5. Foxtrot

6. Sweet 'n Savvy

7. Bittersweet

8. Carnaval

x

Track List: Morning Dance

1. Morning Dance

2. Jubilee

3. Rasul

4. Song For Lorraine

5. Starburst

6. Heliopolis

7. It Doesn't Matter

8. Little Linda

9. End Of Romanticism

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Spyro Gyra

1. Limelight

2. Breakfast At Igor's

3. You Can Count On Me

4. Para Ti Latino

5. Ariana

6. Three Wishes

7. Birks Law

8. Pipo's Song

9. Heart Of The Night

10. What Exit

11. Yosemite

12. The Unknown Soldier

13. Tower Of Babel

14. The Unwritten Letter

15. Westwood Moon

16. Morning Dance (Live)

Comments

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YES ! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! One cool treat was seeing some of you perform with some Local Yocals at Open Mic Night...Funk y Biscuit... Boca Raton, FL..... Keep up the great work and great spirit !
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Have seen them from the concert hall to the shopping mall (yes, the mall!). Always a fantastic performance.
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matratus
♫ ♫
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COW CIHCKEN
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Still got it the juice is good baby just a fresh and good for ya
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Smooth
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I was visiting Buffalo, NY when I first heard music of Spyro Gyra. Smooches and squeezes to ya'. I still love your music!
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mustafasav
Whatever negative is said about Spyro Gyra is irrelevant, I loved them for 40 years.
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I think it is great that contrary to popular opinion, Jazz lives on. It is the fineist form of music. I think it is the original form of music that people call new. Jazz will always throw a curve at you that just misses killing you. Power and slick arraignments . That is what makes it so damn much fun and makes you feel good and relaxed. Peace
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grandmother1 9 5 6
I bought this"album" back in the eighties and I still love it.
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For years I thought this was latino group. But is doesn't matter, there are just have an islander's sound. I could just always want this music in the background while on the beach grooving in the sand.
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One of the great sax players, any thing he plays is good.
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gerardf3
Spyro Gyra as fresh today as in the 80's. Lovin' it!
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dwoodard184
I listen to old, new, and in between Spyro Gyra all the time - old and new still seem fresh and great. keep it going!
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Spyro Gyra, greatest jazz group eva. Decades of good music. Keep it up guys. Keep me in the groove.
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I agree, still great!!! I saw them many times in Detroit, great shows always amazing!!!
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love this group,had many of their albums played MILWAUKEE SUMMERFEST,G R E A T SHOW. T
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My favorite LPs... Carnaval, Catching The Sun & Morning Dance (1979)
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one of my favorites during my early years of playing the trumpet. I love their pop, R&B, Caribbean sound. Live On...
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Es la mejor música jazz Latina que e podido escuchar lo mejor la seguiré escuchando por siempre.
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This is a great song to do accounting to!!! Love it!
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Watched and heard them perform at the Soiled Dove a few years ago. Very electrifying !
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Still great!!!
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This band turned me onto SJ in the mid-80's. Always great to hear them.
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Morning Dance..... A CLASSIC!!!!
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They still sound good, magnificent!
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Good tune. Love the jacket.
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Mellow
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Great bass player. That bass part would be fun to play.
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Stimulant to body and soul, what a piece
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paul_dmartin
best elevator music I've ever heard
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This group turned me onto SJ in the 80's when rock n roll was losing appeal. Morning dance. WHAT A SONG.
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Been listening since early on, over 40 years. Still relevant!
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Been listening to their music 40 years it just better smile!
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Love the groove it brings. Been listening for a long time and will always be a fan
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I was in HS stage band as lead alto sax in the late 70's when Song for Lorraine was huge. And my name is Lorraine, so it is a special song for me. Since then, I always have that amazing mental/spiri t u a l association with Spyro Gyra. And I was in love for that first amazing time when they were reaching stardom, so any of their music makes me feel that same great feeling!!!!
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WOW!
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As the image of my most inner thoughts apparently lean forward I can't believe I'm in place of peace that i always create for myself with my GOD. Jazz allows me to nurture my spirit. SHIRL PORTER
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Love this cd I have it!
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I'm so very moved by the comment that Mrs ariana Luciano wrote about her dad. Jeremy wall which wrote her wedding song for her on her wedding day and also danced with her too. So much love made me cry.
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One of the best jazz groups around
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They are one of my favourite music jazz band. I've been listening to them since I was in teenager ;-)
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My favorite group. Absolutely Love their sound. Heard them in 75 and have never. Stopped listening to them.
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The Best at what they do, create masterful sounds of music that the world of jazz listeners will continue to appreciate for decades to come. I know I do
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These guys are totally awesome. I've been listening to their music for yesrs....
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love these guys awesome!!!!
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Lovin this
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never caught these guys in concert if they ever come too Philly i'm there
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vergefinejew e l r y
Wish you guys would up-date info on artists, they have produced numerous albums since 2008 they have other albums out and nominated for grammy's also.
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10 thumbs up, and a Z formation. Spyro Gyra has been one of my favorites for a long time. Cant get enough of the groove they have. Yum yum!
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