Although 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 Dance

In 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.

Simple 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.

On Get 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."

Bonny 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.

The 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 professional ensembles.

Funkyard 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.

Can 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.

The 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!

Wassup! 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.

The uptempo Easy Street is another testimonial for Jay Beckenstein's and Tom Schuman's breathtaking mastership.

After so much tempo it's beneficial to listen to a contemplative tune like A Winter Tale.

Funk 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.

Newroses tops the previous tempo to showcase that the group has no limit. Incredible.

Any 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!






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  • Further review
  • Title: Good To Go-Go
    Artist: Spyro Gyra
    Year: 2007
    Length: 1:09:02
    Genre: General Jazz
    Label: Heads Up International

    01 Simple Pleasures [5:49]
    02 Get Busy [5:20]
    03 Jam Up [4:16]
    04 The Left Bank [5:40]
    05 Funkyard Dog [5:02]
    06 Along For The Ride [6:46]
    07 Island Time [6:23]
    08 Wassup! [4:46]
    09 Easy Street [5:02]
    10 A Winter Tale [6:34]
    11 Good To Go-Go [6:42]
    12 Newroses [6:43]