Brooklyn may seem like the “in” place today, but the group that broke out in the mid-70’s, helped define contemporary jazz and still wins Grammy awards today would not be without Brooklyn native Jay Beckenstein. The band is super group Spyra Gyro. The band formed in Buffalo, New York, in the thriving music scene of the 70’s. This coming Wednesday, August 14th, you can catch them on the NYC Smooth Jazz cruise around Manhattan. (www.smoothjazznewyork.com)
Spyro Gyra – The Deep End
Spyro Gyra has 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. 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.
Shaker song – Morning dance – Catching the sun Spyro Gyra at Northsea Jazz Festival (2003)
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. 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.
Spyro Gyra – Rockaway To Sunset (live, 2004)
Their albums were consistent best-sellers, and their concerts often sold out. And don’t think that the band’s creative ability waned. Just look at the awards they earned within the last decade. They won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album in 2007 for Wrapped in a Dream, in 2008 for Good to Go-go, in 2009 for The Night before Christmas and in 2010 for Down to the Wire. Not too shabby.
Spyro Gyra – “Catching the Sun” at the HSBC Jazz Festival
A Foreign Affair was released in 2011 and debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s jazz charts.
Spyro Gyra on the 2011 Smooth Cruise
On August 14th, Spyro Gyra performs two shows at 6:30pm and 9:30pm. Celebrate the Smooth Cruises’ 16th year on the Hudson, aboard The Spirit of New York, located at Pier 61, Chelsea Piers (23rd St & West Side Highway). For information and to purchase tickets, visit www.smoothjazznewyork.com. Tickets are ON SALE NOW online and by phone. Standard tickets for the Wednesday, August 14th are $59.50.