First View


Spyro Gyra has a long history as a well-known contemporary jazz group. Most of the listeners will remember their famous album "Morning Dance", their first album with a major label. The title song has still heavy rotation on contemporary jazz stations. A generation later Spyro Gyra is even now in music business. The group was founded by Jay Beckenstein (sax) and Jeremy Wall (keyboards) in the 70's. Jeremy Wall who left the group is now professor of jazz in NY. Keyboardist Tom Schuman replaced Jeremy Wall as keyboardist while Wall stayed as an assistant producer and occasional composer. He even wrote the song "The Lowdown" for this new album. Further members are now Julio Fernandez (guitar/vocals), Scott Ambush (bass) and Ludwig Afonso (drums).

Often listeners are complaining that musicians are recording albums "radio friendly" to receive support by smooth jazz radio stations. Listening to Spyro Gyra's new album I can definitely draw conclusion that this group plays their own unique style. Spyro Gyra isn't hunting after the contemporary prevailing taste. "After 24 albums, it's not always easy to develop new material," says leader and saxophonist Jay Beckenstein. "We usually try to veer away from what we did on our previous record. But we also try to embrace anything that explores new ground - in any way we can."

It's Spyro Time! This up-tempo tune combines all ingredients of a fresh live performance. A driving beat, sparkling organ, compelling guitar slicks and of course Jay Beckenstein's pushing sax. “When we play live, we want to present what we are excited about now,” Beckenstein says. “It’s easy to reach your audience with the same four or five hits, but we have never wanted to become a “nostalgia band.” Fortunately, our fans have been gracious enough to keep coming to shows where they know that they will hear a lot of new material and as well as the occasional completely new version of a familiar song.” This experience as a longtime live group is a treasury the group can obviously profit from.

Midnight Thunder is one of the rare tunes on this album which fits into the smooth jazz frame. This slow mellow song is a real melting ear-greaser in the better sense.

The Voodooyoodoo showcases the nonchalance of professional musicians. Bassist Scott Ambush wrote this grooving tune featuring trumpeter Nathan Eklund. He already recorded for Spyro Gyra, Craig Yaremko, Annemarie Russell, Rick Fontaine, Russell Wolff, The Hoppin' Haole Brothers, and Caté. A trumpet player we will soon hear more about.

The famous guitar player Chuck Loeb is also a genius writer and producer. The song Tuesday is his child. Chuck has an old connection to Spyro Gyra. He already worked as a producer on their album "Got the Magic". Tuesday is a stomping tune. The lead melody is played by Jay Beckenstein on sax and flute.

On Impressions of Madrid Jay Beckenstein plays soprano sax, keyboards and percussion, and even sings and plays flute. You wouldn't recognize that Spyro Gyra plays that tune so authentic Spanish is the performance. Ex-Spyro Gyra-member Dave Samuels plays Marimba in his well-known kind of mastership. This tune is of a haunting beauty and underlines Spyro Gyra's strong relationship to Spanish music.

Impressions of Toledo follows up the Spanish flavored theme with spicy percussion gadgets and a Tom Schuman on piano in an extremely good mood.

Wrapped In A Dream is an incorporation of the spirit of classical jazz. This tunes offers more room for Jay Beckenstein's sax improvisations.

After The Storm is presenting the more edgy face of the group. One can observe it on most of their concerts. Not smooth but still melodious. A bit more rock and less smooth jazz.

Walkin' Home was written by Tom Schuman. "The process of developing material for this album was so natural," comments he. "Once we got into the studio. We sat down, learned the material and played until it felt right. The impression of ease can only delivered by a real master of the keys.

When I might give a suggestion of the first single of this album, The Lowdown would be my first choice. A fluently grooving piece, the pure invitation to dance.

New York's premier jazz drummer Ludwig Afonso and keyboardist Tom Schuman penned Lil' Mono. This rhythm oriented tune has some fusion flavor in the style which is only presented by the Spyro Gyra since more than 30 years.

Woogitybop is dedicated to Claire, Jay's wife. It's a première. For the first time we can listen to Jay Beckenstein's vocals. Listening to the song I feel myself at home. There is so much familiarity. Julio Fernandez plays an awesome guitar in "American style" and the horn section is a pleasure.

"Wrapped in A Dream" is contemporary jazz per se on a high level. Spyro Gyra were and are the protagonists of cjazz. The beaming vibe of life atmosphere is breathing in every tune of this exiting album.




  • Spyro Gyra's bio
  • Spyro Gyra offical site
  • Spyro Gyra
    Wrapped In A Dream
    Label: Heads Up International
    UPC: 0-53361-3107-2-1
    Release Date: Feb. 28, 2006
    Produced by Jay Beckenstein
    Co-producer Dave Love
    Track Listing:
    Spyro Time 
    Midnight Thunder 
    The Voodooyoodoo 
    Impressions of Madrid 
    Impressions of Toledo 
    Wrapped In A Dream 
    After The Storm 
    Walkin' Home 
    The Lowdown 
    Lil' Mono