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Spyro Gyra

Founded in 1974 by saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, Spyro Gyra have consistently been one of the commercially successfully pop-jazz groups of the past 30 years. The band became a full-time venture in 1976 and has been touring ever since. Critics love to attack this band's music, which combines R&B and elements of pop and Caribbean music with jazz, but its live performances are often stimulating -- unlike many of its records, which emphasize the danceable melodies.

The roots of Spyro Gyra lay in Buffalo, NY, in 1974. Beckenstein and his longtime friend, keyboardist Jeremy Wall, had been leading a group with a revolving membership; every one of the many members in the band were loosely involved in the local jazz and rock scenes. Around 1974, the group was beginning to gel and cultivate a following. A club owner who wanted to advertise an upcoming appearance by the band asked Beckenstein for the group's name. The saxophonist told him "Spirogyra," a word he learned in a college biology course. The owner misspelled the word as Spyro Gyra, and the band fell into place, featuring Beckenstein, Wall, Jim Kurzdorfer, and Tom Walsh. Not long afterward, the group added keyboardist Tom Schuman. Electric guitarist Chet Catallo, drummer Eli Konikoff, and percussionist Gerardo Velez all joined in 1978 (with Wall dropping out) and bassist David Wofford was added in 1980.

Spyro Gyra independently funded and recorded their debut album, releasing the record on the local independent label Amherst in 1976. The record slowly became a success and Amherst sold the rights to the band to Infinity Records, a division of MCA. Wall left the band in 1978, leaving Schuman as the group's main keyboardist. Morning Dance, their first album for Infinity, was released in 1979. The record became a major hit, spawning a Top 40 single with "Morning Dance" and going platinum. Morning Dance firmly placed Spyro Gyra as one of the most popular artists in contemporary jazz, and throughout the '80s, their popularity continued growing. Their albums were consistent best-sellers, and their concerts often sold out. In 1983, vibraphonist and marimba player Dave Samuels -- who had played on several of the group's albums -- became a full-fledged member of the band. Over the course of the '80s, the membership of Spyro Gyra fluctuated, but Beckenstein and Schuman remained at its core, keeping the group's signature sound intact.

In 1990, MCA's jazz roster was absorbed by GRP, so Spyro Gyra switched labels, releasing Fast Forward, their first album for GRP, later that year. In 1993, Samuels left the touring band, but he continued to play in the studio. By the late '90s, the band featured Beckenstein, Schuman, Julio Fernandez, Joel Rosenblatt, and Scott Ambush, and released Got the Magic in 1999. Two years later the band moved to the Telarc-affiliated Heads Up label and released In Modern Times in 2001, followed by Original Cinema in 2003. Drummer Rosenblatt left the band and was replaced by Ludwig Afonso for 2004's Deep End. A fourth Heads Up album, Good to Go-Go, was issued in 2007. The holiday album A Night Before Christmas followed in 2008. ~ Scott Yanow & Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Been listening since early on, over 40 years. Still relevant!
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Been listening to their music 40 years it just better smile!
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Love the groove it brings. Been listening for a long time and will always be a fan
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I was in HS stage band as lead alto sax in the late 70's when Song for Lorraine was huge. And my name is Lorraine, so it is a special song for me. Since then, I always have that amazing mental/spiri t u a l association with Spyro Gyra. And I was in love for that first amazing time when they were reaching stardom, so any of their music makes me feel that same great feeling!!!!
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WOW!
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As the image of my most inner thoughts apparently lean forward I can't believe I'm in place of peace that i always create for myself with my GOD. Jazz allows me to nurture my spirit. SHIRL PORTER
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Love this cd I have it!
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I'm so very moved by the comment that Mrs ariana Luciano wrote about her dad. Jeremy wall which wrote her wedding song for her on her wedding day and also danced with her too. So much love made me cry.
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One of the best jazz groups around
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They are one of my favourite music jazz band. I've been listening to them since I was in teenager ;-)
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My favorite group. Absolutely Love their sound. Heard them in 75 and have never. Stopped listening to them.
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The Best at what they do, create masterful sounds of music that the world of jazz listeners will continue to appreciate for decades to come. I know I do
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These guys are totally awesome. I've been listening to their music for yesrs....
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love these guys awesome!!!!
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Lovin this
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never caught these guys in concert if they ever come too Philly i'm there
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vergefinejew e l r y
Wish you guys would up-date info on artists, they have produced numerous albums since 2008 they have other albums out and nominated for grammy's also.
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10 thumbs up, and a Z formation. Spyro Gyra has been one of my favorites for a long time. Cant get enough of the groove they have. Yum yum!
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Just too smooth...Kee p the music flowing...
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avocruz
One of many great jazz group. This group and The Rippingtons are my favorites. Puedo escucharlos todo el día y la noche.
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nice beat
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Love spyro gyra just what tha dr. Order yeses baby
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These guys are awesome!!!!
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I love Spyro Gyra they are the best! My Favorite song of theirs is Ariana and it just so happens that my Dad is Jeremy Wall and he wrote it for me when I was a little girl, and danced to it with me on my wedding day while the band played it... It was magical :-)
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Bring IT!
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wfr1947
They have a song, "Access All Areas". It has a special meaning for me.
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techcamp1
I'm a huge fan, been listening since early 70's!
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Yup!!! Great!!!! ;-)
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To me they sound better in the spring, summer and early fall, but more sonin the SUMMER.
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terryleeturn e r
Saw them live WAY back in the early 80s in -- of all places -- the Cincinnati Zoo. Even though the stage was a makeshift deal outdoors, it was one of the best live shows I've seen. Been a fan ever since.
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Spyro gyra always was smooth
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Very mellow, I like this song
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Beckenstein and crew are amazing, i like Samuels.
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soothing,mak e s me think about summer
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deaton2007
Just enjoyed Chet Catella tonight here in a little bar in Fairport NY. Tuesday night Jam at The Landing Bar and Grill us always amazing.
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brrys2_710
consistent tight jams from them. Change is always an inevitable part of anything, and their sound only mirrors that. Still enjoy them through the years.
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They've lost a lot of the edge they used to have playing at the old Tralf back in my college days. It pains me to say it but they now sound a bit like good elevator music. I still love the Morning Dance album.
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Got to see them at the Beacon Theater in New York along with Bob James
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This group is hot like that... Luvin it... ;-)
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marym12125
If you LOVE jazz this group is IT! Great sound! Love it!
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Great sounds and the guitar is wonderful and the sax
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Got hooked on SJ in the 80's hearing Morning Dance on a rock n roll station in Seattle. Been hooked ever since!!!
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Saw them in Dallas and loved every moment of the show. Great show and great venue!!!!!!
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My first jazz album! Yea it's been that long ago
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Morning Dance turned me forever to SJ.
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This group started me listening to SJ back in the 80's. GREAT GROUP!!!
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kbluesax2000
This is just plain 'feel good' music. Takes me out of myself to somewhere I'm sure I wanna be.
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Fell in love with this group in the 70's. STILL LOVE THEIR SOUND!!!!
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Oh, Jay if you are reading this...Thank You!!
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bigelowfoy
When CD players first became available... . a n d CDs were hard to come by!...one of their albums was the first CD I bought....I still love them.
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