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Spyro Gyra

s Spyro Gyra contemplates upcoming milestones to its storied career, it’s tempting to fall back on the Grateful Dead lyric, “What a long strange trip it’s been” to describe it. During that time, they have performed over five thousand shows, released twenty-nine albums (not counting “Best Of…” compilations) selling over ten million albums while also achieving one platinum and two gold albums. These upcoming milestones include 2012, which will be thirty-five years since their first album release and 2014 will be forty years as a band. They show little sign of wanting to slow down either, gaining Grammy® nominations for each of their last four albums.

Born in Brooklyn, bandleader Jay Beckenstein grew up listening to the music of Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie, and started playing the saxophone at age seven. Beckenstein attended the University at Buffalo, starting out as a biology major before changing to music performance (read classical and avant garde). During summer breaks, he and an old high school friend, keyboardist Jeremy Wall, played gigs together back on Long Island. Wall attended college in California, and after both graduated, Beckenstein stayed in Buffalo’s thriving music scene, where Wall eventually joined him.

"Not many people know it, but Buffalo was like a mini Chicago back then, with a smoking blues, soul, jazz, even rockabilly scene, of all things," Beckenstein muses. "After being confined to classical music for so long, it was heaven. I was in the horn sections around town, backing some great vocalists."

Spyro Gyra, whose odd name has since become world famous, was first known simply as “Tuesday Night Jazz Jams,” a forum wherein Beckenstein and Wall were joined by a rotating cast of characters. Tuesday just happened to be the night when most musicians weren’t playing other gigs to pay their bills. Around this time, a young keyboardist named Tom Schuman began sitting in when he was only sixteen years old. This young man, of course, remains a member to this day.

"Don't forget the interminable Dead-like solos we were taking," Beckenstein cracks. "We were the kings of self-indulgence, but eventually we earned our right to charge a quarter at the door. It was a complete shock when word of our psychosis got out and we started packing them in!"

The group’s increasing popularity – combined with the purchase of a new sign for the club – prompted the owner to insist that Beckenstein come up with a name for his band. “It began as a joke. I said ‘spirogyra,’ he misspelled it, and here we are thirty years later. In retrospect, it’s okay. In a way, it sounds like what we do. It sounds like motion and energy.”

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Live Review

Spyro Gyra al Roma Jazz Festival 2022

Read "Spyro Gyra al Roma Jazz Festival 2022" reviewed by Mario Calvitti


Spyro Gyra Roma Jazz Festival 2022 Auditorium Roma 12.11.2022 Pochi gruppi, e non solo in ambito jazzistico, possono vantare una carriera altrettanto lunga di quella degli Spyro Gyra, che si avvicinano ai cinquant'anni di attività, iniziata nel 1974 con la fondazione della band da parte del sassofonista Jay Beckenstein e del tastierista Jeremy Wall. Nel 1977 veniva pubblicato il primo album autoprodotto, che ottenne un immediato successo sull'onda crescente dell'allora ...

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Album Review

Spyro Gyra: The Rhinebeck Sessions

Read "The Rhinebeck Sessions" reviewed by Glenn Astarita


In 2014, the Buffalo, NY band Spyro Gyra will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Indeed, a remarkable feat. Well-known for cross- pollinating contemporary jazz with jazz-fusion, the musicians merge an amenable game plan with engaging melodies and largely buoyant grooves amid a sense of bravado, stemming from their formidable chops and intense improv segments. The group locks into a bevy of spunky motifs, complete with tuneful hooks and pumping rhythms. They delve into jazz-funk, Latin and mainstream jazz, along with a ...

471
Album Review

Spyro Gyra: Down the Wire

Read "Down the Wire" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins


It's been 30 years since Spyro Gyra released their one and only crossover hit, “Morning Dance." Changes in how decisions are made as to what gets played on the radio pretty much guarantee the group will not score another; that's unfortunate, because they continue to make eye-opening, jaw-dropping music. Down the Wire is a set of 11 new songs, all composed by members of the group: Jay Beckenstein, saxophones; Julio Fernandez, guitars; Tom Schuman, keyboards; Scott Ambush, bass; ...

451
Album Review

Spyro Gyra: A Night Before Christmas

Read "A Night Before Christmas" reviewed by Jeff Winbush


In any major artist's discography are some stock entries besides the usual studio releases. There's also the live album, the greatest hits album (even if the artist only had one or none) and the inevitable Christmas album.Why Spyro Gyra felt the urge to release A Night Before Christmas, their album of Christmas songs, is a question best answered by Jay Beckenstein, the saxophonist and original member who's been the guiding light of the band for over 30 years. ...

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Album Review

Spyro Gyra: A Night Before Christmas

Read "A Night Before Christmas" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins


'Twas A Night Before Christmas, and all through the land, everyone was listening ... to a world-famous band. With apologies to Clement Moore, the title of Spyro Gyra's first all-out holiday release delivers on its promise of good cheer. Founded in the mid-'70s by Jay Beckenstein and Jeremy Wall, Spyro Gyra has consistently remained among the most popular and forward-thinking instrumental groups. Its music has crossed the boundaries of fusion, pop, Latin, Brazilian, African and various shades ...

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Album Review

Spyro Gyra: Good to Go-Go

Read "Good to Go-Go" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins


In a way, Spyro Gyra is the Steely Dan of jazz. For most of their years, The Dan was Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and an ever-changing lineup of session musicians. Spyro Gyra started in similar fashion, with saxophonist Jay Beckenstein and keyboardist Jeremy Wall fronting a band they called Tuesday Night Jams. The duo performed on Long Island on Tuesdays with a rotating cast of sidemen. Later joined by teenage keyboardist Tom Schuman, they became Spyro Gyra--a name that began ...

305
Album Review

Spyro Gyra: Wrapped in a Dream

Read "Wrapped in a Dream" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins


When people say “one-hit wonder, the last thing that comes to mind is an act that's been around for three decades, recorded some 25 albums (not counting compilations), and has legions of fans worldwide. Yet, that's what Spyro Gyra is--the wonder being that one of contemporary jazz's most popular acts has only one hit song: “Morning Dance. Since then, the group has delivered such diverse albums as Alternating Currents (1985), Three Wishes (1992) and Original Cinema (2003), as well as ...

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Music Industry

Jazz Fusion Artist Bob Holz Releases New Single Featuring Former Members Of Spyro Gyra And Jean Luc Ponty Band

Jazz Fusion Artist Bob Holz Releases New Single Featuring Former Members Of Spyro Gyra And Jean Luc Ponty Band

Source: Glass Onyon PR - William James

Jazz fusion drummer Bob Holz released a new single titled “Bob's Blues" on November 15th, 2022. The track was recorded at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood, CA and features Holz (drums/composer), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), Chet Catallo (guitar), Billy Steinway (piano) and Dave Goldberg (saxophone). The tune explores Holz's love of blending jazz fusion with smooth jazz elements to create a radio friendly atmosphere.  "A live audience's participation charges our performance and results in the band locking into the zone ...

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Recording

Bob Holz Releases Live Album With Former Members Of Spyro Gyra And Blood Sweat And Tears

Bob Holz Releases Live Album With Former Members Of Spyro Gyra And Blood Sweat And Tears

Source: Two for the Show Media

Jazz fusion artist Bob Holz is back with a power house live album featuring a star studded lineup of high profile players. The title is Bob Holz Live In New York and L.A. and was released on MVD Audio in early 2021. This album matches up top flight instrumental and vocal performances as Bob Holz covers some of the great jazz classics combined with his own original compositions. Bob Holz has established himself as a world class drummer and composer ...

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Video / DVD

A Confession in Triplicate: Spyro Gyra, Guilty Pleasure

A Confession in Triplicate: Spyro Gyra, Guilty Pleasure

Source: Something Else!

By Something Else Reviews We attempted to give ourselves some cover by assuring one another that Spyro Gyra started out more in the vein of Weather Report than, say, David Sanborn. We really did. But, after pulling out the actual albums, it didn't take long to see how baldly ridiculous that premise so quickly became. Spyro Gyra, whatever their initial intent, are the living embodiment of everything that went wrong in the 1980s when a radio format called “smooth jazz" ...

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Festival

Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra, Jonathan Butler and Patti Austin Headline Three-Night HSBC Jazz Festival in March

Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra, Jonathan Butler and Patti Austin Headline Three-Night HSBC Jazz Festival in March

Source: Michael Ricci

Tickets on sale NOW!

New York, NY -- For the first time, The New York Observer, HSBC Bank USA, N.A. ("HSBC") and Fuel Outdoor are teaming up to present the HSBC Jazz Festival, a three-night musical event at the NOKIA Theatre Times Square on March 25, March 27, and March 28, featuring artists including Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra, Jonathan Butler and Patti Austin.

Produced by Marquee Concerts, the festival kicks off with two acts that are sure to keep audience ...

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Performance / Tour

Labor Day Jazz with Spyro Gyra at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Labor Day Jazz with Spyro Gyra at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Source: All About Jazz

THE STARS ALIGN FOR KKSF 103.7 CONCERT ON THE COAST AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, HALF MOON BAY Outdoor Concert Features Spyro Gyra and Groovin' for Grover on Labor Day

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - August 19, 2005 - Contemporary jazz legend Spyro Gyra joins three of the world's most renowned smooth jazz artists, Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright and Jeff Lorber, touring as Groovin' For Grover, on Monday, Sept. 5, at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. The concert concludes the ...

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Performance / Tour

SPYRO GYRA This Week at the Iridium: NEW YEARS WEEK! Dec. 27-31

SPYRO GYRA This Week at the Iridium: NEW YEARS WEEK! Dec. 27-31

Source: All About Jazz

December 27, 2004 To: Listings/Critics/Features From: JAZZ PROMO SERVICES Press Contact: JIM EIGO, [email protected] IRIDIUM JAZZ CLUB 1650 BROADWAY (Corner of 51st) NEW YORK, NY 10023 RESERVATIONS: 212-582-2121, www.iridiumjazzclub.com Sets at 8 & 10PM EVERY MONDAY LES PAUL AND HIS QUARTET EVERY TUESDAY THE MINGUS BIG BAND This Week at Iridium... NEW YEARS WEEK! Dec. 29-Jan. 2 SPYRO GYRA 3 Sets Friday Dec. 31 and Sat. Jan. 1! $35.00 Weds.-Thursday 3 Sets Friday, Dec. 31 1st Set: $95.00 includes 4 ...

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Performance / Tour

Spyro Gyra New Years Week At Iridium Dec. 29-Jan. 2

Spyro Gyra New Years Week At Iridium Dec. 29-Jan. 2

Source: All About Jazz


Phil Traynor
bass, electric
Richard Szaniszlo
vibraphone
Ronald Wayne
multi-instrumentalist

Photos

Concerts

Jun 29 Sat

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Rhinebeck Sessions

Self Produced
2013

buy

Down The Wire

Heads Up International
2009

buy

A Night Before...

Heads Up International
2008

buy

Good To Go-Go

Heads Up International
2007

buy

Wrapped In A Dream

Heads Up International
2006

buy

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