A perennial fan favorite, Spyro Gyra comprised of Jay Beckenstien (saxophone), Tom Schuman (keyboards), Julio Fernandez (guitars), Scott Ambush (bass) and Bonny B (drums, percussion, vocals), have with their current CD Good To Go-Go, lived up to their fan's expectations. This time, they get the party started with "Simple Pleasures," and Beckstein’s sweet sax leading the way.
While Buffalo, New York is often the brunt of the rest of America’s bad jokes, it has proved to be a great incubator for some of the jazz industry’s more prolific artists such as Spyro Gyra’s, Beckstein and Schuman, as well as Sherrie Maricle of the Diva Jazz Orchestra fame and exciting newcomer, fellow sax man Jack Prybylski.
The second track from Good To Go-Go, "Get Busy" features some incredible keyboard chops from Schuman and equally prolific guitar riffs by Hoboken, New Jersey’s Fernandez.
I particularly enjoyed what the band has done with "Jam Up" featuring a liberal dose of Caribbean spices, supported by Bonny B’s reggae style vocals and Andy Narell’s steel pans. One might imagine this is like listening to jazz through the ears of Ziggy Marley. At times, the vocals become a little bizarre, but this reviewer liked the effect. The composition is credited simply to Bonapart who we might guess is Bonny B.
Narell returns on track seven for a true island tune appropriately named "Island Time." If you are a fan of the steel pans, you are going to love this lively tune that is further enhanced by some great conga beats from Marc Quiñones. Quiñones also makes appearances on the title track "Good To Go-Go," "Easy Street" and "The Left Bank." Beckstein’s saxophone dances through all 6:23 of Scott Ambush’s original composition. If you like to cha-cha you will probably want to spin this track the next time you host a party.
Schuman’s "Wassup!" is closer to modern jazz with only slight reggae overtones. On this tune, I found the reggae style vocals detracted from the overall music, but hey, when you are as good as Spyro Gyra (smile), you can afford to take a few risks here and there.
For those patriots of traditional Spyro Gyra music, you will find pleasure in tunes such as "Funkyard Dog," penned by Fernandez, Beckstein’s "Easy Street" and the surreal Beckstein and Fernandez collaboration "New Roses."
All tracks on the CD were composed by members of Spyro Gyra.
Floridian fans of Spyro Gyra are in for a triple trip during mid-August as the band appears at The Theater in West Palm Beach on the 17th, Melbourne’s King Center on the 18th, and at the Largo Cultural Center on the 19th.