CD The Very Best of Spyro Gyra (CD 984698),
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The Very Best of Spyro Gyra
2. Breakfast at Igor's
3. You Can Count on Me
4. Para Ti Latino
6. Three Wishes
7. Birks Law
8. Pipo's Song
9. Heart of the Night
10. What Exit?
12. Unknown Soldier, The
13. Tower of Babel
14. Unwritten Letter, The
15. Westwood Moon
16. Morning Dance
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 543595
Spyro Gyra: Jay Beckenstein (saxophone, synthesizer); Dave Samuels (vibraphone, marimba, synthesizer); Tom Shuman (piano, keyboards);
Jay Azzolina, Julio Fernandez (guitar); Oscar Cartaya, Scott Ambush (bass);
Joel Rosenblatt (drums, cajon); Richie Morales (drums, percussion).
Additional personnel includes: Chieli Minucci (arranger); The Tower Of Power Horns (horns); Manolo Badrena (percussion).
Producer: Jay Beckenstein.
Compilation producers: Phil Brennan, Bud Harner.
Recorded at Bear Tracks, Suffern, New York; The Power Station, New York,
New York; The Lighthouse, Studio City, California; The Carriage House, Stamford, Connecticut. Includes liner notes by Phil Brennan.
Personnel: Porter Carroll, Vaneese Thomas (vocals); Jay Azzolina, Julio Fernandez (guitar); Scott Kreitzer (flute, saxophone, tenor saxophone); Howard Levy (harmonica); Jay Beckenstein (saxophone); Emilio Castillo, David Mann (tenor saxophone); Barry Danielian (trumpet, flugelhorn); Gary Grant, Al Chez, Jerry Hey (trumpet); Bill Reichenbach Jr. (bass trumpet, trombone); Randy Andos (trombone); Tom Schuman (piano, keyboards); Dave Samuels (vibraphone, marimba); Richie Morales (drums, percussion); Joel Rosenblatt (drums); Bobby Allende (congas); Manolo Badrena, Marc Quiones, Sammy Figueroa, Bashiri Johnson (percussion); Steve Skinner (programming, drum programming).
Liner Note Author: Philip Brennan.
Recording information: Bear Tracks Recording Studio, Suffern, NY (1988-1997); Lakeville, PA (1988-1997); Power Station, New York, NY (1988-1997); The Carriage House, Stamford, CT (1988-1997); The Lighthouse, Studio City, CA (1988-1997).
Photographers: Jeff Sedlik; David O'Connor; Mark Lyon.
Arranger: Chieli Minucci.
Although Spyro Gyra's late-'70s instrumental pop chart hit "Morning Dance" is always credited by some for opening doors for the genre that folks would later call smooth jazz, this 16-track compilation -- part of GRP's new classic artist collector's series -- shows that saxman Jay Beckenstein and company never really fit perfectly into any category. And that's by design. Manager Philip Brennan sequenced these tracks with GRP A&R guy Bud Harner, wisely choosing to make a live version of "Morning Dance" the last track, something of an afterthought, since most of the material here (from 1988 through 1997) is far more challenging and exciting. You won't catch the scorching Latin jams "Breakfast at Igor's" or "Para Ti Latino" on any smooth station, and even lighthearted tracks like keyboardist Tom Schuman's "You Can Count on Me" are a little too island-minded to hit the R&B-focused genre listener these days. "Three Wishes" is Beckenstein's very likeable attempt at a traditional jazz approach. The band did find some smooth jazz success by finding the right combination with guitarist Chieli Minucci on the seductive "Ariana," but it's easy to see from most of these tracks that its true creative heart lay elsewhere. They've survived by building their fan base and offering one of contemporary instrumental music's best live shows year after year. It would be hard for one CD to capture the many facets of a band who's more than a quarter century old, but this is a must-have for longtime fans and those wanting an intro to the Spyro Gyra experience. ~ Jonathan Widran
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