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.

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