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On their 22nd album, it's clear that Spyro Gyra has stillGot the Magic. The compositions, performances, and production values are as dependable as ever, but this time around leader/producer Jay Beckenstein brought in some fresh production and composition help in the persons of Chuck Loeb (six of the eleven selections), Jeff Beal and Jason Miles (one each). Loeb's tracks do steer Spyro Gyra a little bit in the direction of smooth jazz, but this is still definitely identifiable as Spyro Gyra. The core band of Beckenstein (sax), Tom Schuman (keyboards), Julio Fernandez (guitar), Scott Ambush (bass), and Joel Rosenblatt (drums) remains intact as it has for six years, but the guests play a slightly more prominent role this time around. The three-piece "No Sweat Horns" are back again, as is band alumnus Dave Samuels on vibes. Basia adds lead vocals to Jeff and Joan Beal's "Springtime Laughter," and four other tunes sport background vocals. In this case, change is progress, andGot The Magicis another successful chapter in the remarkably excellent and consistent discography of Spyro Gyra. (Windham Hill Jazz 11439)
Tracks:Silk and Satin; Breezeway; Havana Moonlight; Springtime Laughter; If You Will; Got the Magic; Teardrops; Pure Mood; Sierra; Love Comes; R.S.V.P. (55:41)
Jay Beckenstein, saxophones; Tom Schuman, keyboards; Julio Fernandez, guitars, scat vocal; Joel Rosenblatt, drums; Scott Ambush, bass; Basia Trzetrzelewska, vocals; David Charles, percussion; Dave Samuels, vibes and marimba; Scott Kreitzer, flute, saxophone; Jeff Beal, Mike Ricchiuti, keyboards; Carmen Cuesta, Phil Hamilton, Kay Gile, Billy Cliff, Andrika Hall, Julio Fernandez, background vocals; Barry Danielian, trumpet, flugelhorn; Randy Andros, trombone.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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