For more than 30 years, Spyro Gyra has been an integral part of the contemporary jazz scene; on top of that, the group has survived the highs and lows of an ever-changing trend in music. With saxophonist Jay Beckenstein at the helm, the band has constantly evolved from year-to-year to become one of the most prolific bands in recent history. Although their style of music does not fit into the realm of smooth jazz, their popularity continues to be firm while also having a strong fan base. While many musicians have gravitated towards that style of jazz to garner airplay, Spyro Gyra has maintained to maintain their own unique style without compromising their integrity, while also going through a number of personnel changes. During their history, Spyro Gyra has recorded more than 20 albums together and continues to be a major staple at festivals and concerts throughout the world. The band’s latest release entitled Wrapped In A Dream on the Heads Up International Record Label follows a long-standing tradition of excellence where compromise is not the norm.
Wrapped In A Dream is a CD containing up-tempo rhythms, slow moving melodies, vignettes of classic jazz and a cornucopia of other influences, including a tinge of Spanish flavor on two tracks entitled "Impressions of Madrid" and "Impressions of Toledo." On the first tune, Spyro Gyra founding member Jay Beckenstein dons five different hats, including playing the flute, soprano saxophone, keyboards and also serves as percussionist. In another more dynamic move, Jay exhibits his vocal ability as well, which is truly a side seldom seen on previous efforts. The authentic nature of that cut is so unique the band could be mistaken for the real thing. Ex-Spyro Gyra member Dave Samuels offers a heaping helping of marimba, which also adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the track.
At first glance, Wrapped In A Dream could be misconstrued as just another Spyro Gyra CD; however, the overall scope of this release is much broader than that. Through eight successive tracks, each member of the band exemplifies a talent that has made Spyro Gyra a group with a multifaceted array of influences. The ebb and flow of their style of jazz is usually effervescent and very capable technically. One of the more charismatic aspects of the band is their chemistry. On Wrapped In A Dream, we see drummer Josh Dion, keyboardist Tom Schuman, bassist Scott Ambush, guitarist Julio Fernandez, percussionist Cyro Baptista and Jay Beckenstein make a gel of creativity. Tracks such as "Wrapped In A Dream" exhibits the band’s versatility by showcasing their classic jazz licks. A more radio friendly cut entitled "The Lowdown" contains captivating grooves and upbeat melodies, a song that speaks loudly with a reason to dance. Just when you think you have heard the last of Spyro Gyra, they always manage to rise to another level.Wrapped In A Dream is another contemporary jazz highlight for this group of journeymen musicians. As practitioners of the stylized concepts of what jazz should be about, Spyro Gyra continues a long-standing tradition of excellence. This latest release is just another chapter that chronicles the superb skills of an ever-evolving group of musicians.