Sunday, March 3, 2024

Spyro Gyra: Point of View


I like a little jazz-funk. Its smooth rhythm stands as classic background noise for me. But I can't tell the difference between one of the instrumental pieces of Spyro Gyra's Point of View album and any other. I just can't! 

Any way, how did a band named after pond scum originate? When founder Jay Beckenstein was put on the spot for a name back in 1974, he grabbed a memory from biology class - spyro gyra. Yeah it's the name of a common algae, but it can also be used to describe the spiraling music of his band. Awesome name.  It stuck.

Now in its 50th year, the band consists mainly of saxophonist Beckenstein, keyboardist Tom Schuman, guitarist Julio Fernandez, Bass player Scott Ambush, drummer Lionel Cordew, and a handful of specialists called on as needed. The band, which originated in Buffalo, New York, grew to international recognition for its popular, smooth jazz acts.

The CD Point of View was released in 1989 by MCA Records. The jazz album style includes fusion, jazz-rock, and contemporary jazz pieces.  It includes:

  • Slow Burn - Upon listening to this one, I remember it! It's the nice, soft jazz Jim used to play in his office while working.  I especially like the bells.
  • Swing Street - upbeat with sax.  I like it but can't remember it.
  • Fair Weather - Think I hear a little bit of flute? It seems to have a lot of attitude.
  • The Unknown Soldier - To me, it is kind off stand-offish - if you can say that about a piece of music.
  • Hannibal's Boogie - I like the name!  It seems like a bunch of jams. Nice, but not very cohesive.
  • No limits - This seems totally different to me.  Very relaxing.
  • Carolina -  Hmmm.  Just seems like more nice sounds thrown into a pot together.
  • River Walk - Ditto.
  • Swamp Things -  I like this one.  It is kind of funky like its name.
  • Counterpoint - Oh! I recognize this one.  It's kind of sneaky.
  • Gotcha - I like the smooth introduction followed by a swirl of music.
Being a non-jazz person, I can still see how my Jim liked Spyro Gyra. It was his go-to band for relaxing (and driving me crazy). I do like the names of each musical piece.  If they only included words I would be able to remember them. Sorry Spyro Gyra.  Please don't take the views of this music illiterate to heart.

Jazz lovers, go to the Spyro Gyra Website to learn more about this great band, hear tunes, find out when and where they are performing next.  The Wikipedia entry is also very interesting. I've got my eye on the April 20, 2024 Ludlow Garage performance in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Seeing this band in person is a real must do. 

Or. go to Ebay and purchase my copy of Spyro Gyra Point of View.  Help me whittle down my late husband Jim's collection of CDs.

Friday, June 9, 2023

A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles


Well! I finally found the perfect CD for getting the Saturday house cleaning done - The Beatles A Hard Day's Night album. Oh my!  This early Beatles recording  keeps my feet and hands moving.

It was originally released in 1964. Back then I had the strength and stamina to easily lug the vacuum upstairs AND clean the entire area without losing a beat.  Now fast approaching 70, vacuuming takes a little more time and effort. But listening to A Hard Day's Night takes me back to my youth and I dance as I clean the dirt away.

The original sound recordings were made by EMI Records Ltd. Tracks 1 to 7 are from the soundtrack of the United Artist film "A Hard Day's Night." 

Like all the Beatles early work, the tunes are rather simple;  nothing to hint at the complex compositions of the fab four's later years.  Songs include:
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • I Should Have Known Better
  • If I Fell
  • I'm Happy Just To Dance With You
  • And I Love Her
  • Tell Me Why
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • Any Time At All
  • I'll Cry Instead
  • Things She Said Today
  • When I Get Home
  • You Can't Do That
  • I'll be Back
Watch the movie trailer  here. Or listen to the album. I dare you to try and sit still through it!

Buy this CD on Ebay! Help me whittle down Jim's collection,  Thank you.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Further Adventures of Flim & the BB's


I LIKE the cover art for The Further Adventures of Flim & the BB's. How could anyone not? A Superman-esque body  topped by the heads of Flim and the BB's. And that big F on his chest says it all.  This is an album to be reckoned with! And you do.

Starting with the very first track of On The Avenue, the music grabs you. Just imagine the Flim giant strolling down a busy street and all the havoc he would cause.  Jim used to play this on the drive into work.  It's now stuck in my head as I drive along. Listen and you will hear what I mean. Do do do, do do do do do.....  I especially like the saxophone.

Next on the jazz album, released in 1988 by Digital Music Products Inc. (DMP), is Ireland. The stiff beat combines a sing-songy flute solo which stands out. The jazzy Jazz Patrol comes next. I like the piano solo. Cute Shoes follows. I can almost imagine dancing in cute, shiny red shoes. Ya' wanna' dance? One for Hermeto, Pharaoh, Five on the Floor, Curveball and If You Only Knew   continue the musical extravaganza. (Yes.  I call it an extravaganza because the tunes are big sounding and wonderful!)

Bathing Beauties comes next.  I can just imagine them strutting and posing to the music. The Coast Is Clear, Rokeby Garden, and Over and Out bring the album to a close with more tight toe-tapping tunes.

Listening to this CD brought back many good memories of Jim and his music. I will always associate Flim and the BB's with Jim.  If you would like to know more about Flim and the BB's visit the Wikipedia site here.  Listen to the tunes here on YouTube.

 Flim and the BB's formed in the 1980s. The band included bassist Jimmy "Flim" Johnson, keyboard artist Billy Barber, percussionist Billy Berg  (the BB's), and reeds player Dick Oatts.

The band's TriCycle  made its appearance in 1982 at the beginning of the compact disc craze, and the BB's  were sought after by people first recording digital. Band members were happy to oblige, but not able to quit their day jobs. Listen to some of of the recordings. I'm sure you will enjoy Flim & the BB's.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Rockin' at Vandy

 Valentines Day 2021 is fast approaching. So I decided to share a piece my forever Valentine, Jim Fisher, wrote a few years back for his Wazopia Blog. The pictures for the 2003 and 2004 posts have been eaten by  the Internet.  However the text is still good. 

It brings back memories of a very special day. I'll even throw in a link to Rock Lobster at the end. (Or down, down...)

Rockin' at Vandy by James D. Fisher, May 2004

"My son graduated last week from Vanderbilt University. Mary and I went to the ceremony.  It was very hot as you would expect from middle Tennessee in May. 

"Vandy gives the parents a Big Party the night before commencement.  It's held on the lawn at Peabody College.  The featured band was the B-52's, which, amazingly, was one of our favorite bands when Mary and I graduated from Kent State in 1980.The B-52's played a two-hour set with all our favorite songs,-- Love Shack, Deadbeat Club, Topaz, and Roam. Their finale was Rock Lobster. At Kent, we would always slink down as low as we could get when lead singer Fred Schneider commanded, 'Down! Down! Down!'. 

"It was great. The best part was seeing this new generation singing and screaming to the greatest of all party bands from this past generation.  Afterwards, I met up with Fred and thanked him for the show."

There were pictures taken by Jim. But as I said earlier, the Internet ate them. Instead, please enjoy the Youtube link to Rock Lobster.


Monday, January 11, 2021

First Impressions by Eric Essix


Smooth. Very smooth.

I remember listening to this as we drove along.  I definitely remember the music.  But once it is played, the tunes leave me.  'Kinda like the perfect background music. A piece of piano lines or guitar strands may jump into thought at times. It's nice to have bits and pieces drop in as I go about my day.

First Impressions by Eric Essix was recorded in 1989 on the Nova Records label, on both album and CD formats. The contemporary jazz playlist includes:

  1. First Impressions
  2. Twilight
  3. Cool Breeze
  4. Brown Blood
  5. Contents Under Pressure
  6. Off the Clock
  7. Sparrow
  8. Watching Over Me
Cool Breeze is my favorite, with a touch of seagull calls included.  I wish I could remember more than a few sounds. I've been listening to it off and on for six weeks, and it just doesn't stick. Just knowing that I like the music and where I can find some good tunes will have to be enough.

Eric Essix, 61, credits his style first being brought up with gospel music in Birmingham, Alabama. His grandfather gave him his first guitar at age 10, from which he taught himself to play. His career grew and he became a noted guitarist and band leader. He and his band have performed extensively throughout the world. Members include saxophonist Kelley O'Neal and bassist Sean Michael Ray.  Extending his talents, he is now Director of Programming at The University of Alababma's prestigious Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. 

Get to know a little more about Eric Essix through his biography on his Web site here.  Listen to one of his more recent piece,  Late Night Drive on Youtube.  I really do enjoy his music.