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Spyro Gyra – Vinyl Tap

Oct. 10, 2019

Wow. If you ever need a measurement tool to gauge good—no, great—jazz arrangements based on originality and the guts to go where no man has gone before in terms of imaginative covers of classic vinyl originals, Spyro Gyra’s new Vinyl Tap is it. Simply put, I was blown away by the innovative approach found on this recording.

This is such mind-blowing stuff that words can do it little justice. Grab a listen to such classics as Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” (penned by Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins), War’s “The Cisco Kid,” the Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” and others including the rousing finale – Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s “Carry On.” Each track is transformed into a Spyro Gyra original. Totally impressive.

As bandleader/saxman Jay Beckenstein says, “It’s cliché (to record covers) in saxophone-based contemporary jazz. We did not want to sound like a fantastic wedding band. I was really afraid that if we didn’t do our own thing, that our identity would be lost. It was imperative in the creative process—and everybody (in the band) knew this I a big way—that things had to be mixed up. Things had to be jolted out of the old way of approaching the songs…” Let me tell you: These guys didn’t just jolt things, they exploded them.

This fantastically creative and iconic band is set to tour shortly to promote this masterpiece. Their first stop is at the Cancun Jazz Festival on October 23 (a day before I get there, mind you!). To say that they will bring new heat to Cancun is an understatement. If you can’t catch the band in concert, at the very least, grab a listen to this gem. – Ronald Jackson