NEW YORK CITY(14 October 2019): Seminal contemporary jazz band Spyro Gyra decided to do something completely different for their first new album in six years. The New York institution that began 45 years ago curated a collection of songs they listened to on vinyl during their formative youth and then put them through a process they call “warping.” They dared to take apart classic rock and jazz hits and imaginatively rebuild them into something entirely new, changing tempos and textures, rhythms and tones, and adding extensions and solos in the process that refreshed the nine songs, often making them hardly recognizable from their original form. Spyro Gyra produced and brazenly arranged “Vinyl Tap,” which dropped last Friday on the Amherst Records label.
Over the last few weeks, the disc’s first single, a wistful reading of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” that steps soulfully to an Americana cadence, has been garnering airplay and playlist adds. As the album arrives that Jazziz magazine named one of the “10 Albums You Need to Know: October 2019,” Spyro Gyra prepares to roll out on a monthlong concert trek in support of “Vinyl Tap” beginning at the Cancun Jazz Festival in Mexico on October 23. The global whirlwind will visit Ireland, England, Netherlands, Bahrain, Italy, Germany and Israel before playing a string of U.S. dates.
Free from the pressure of having to write great music, Spyro Gyra had fun in the studio making “Vinyl Tap,” which is available as a limited edition, 180-gram clear vinyl disc with a full-color printed inner sleeve in a full-color printed jacket. The band members – saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, keyboardist Tom Schuman, guitarist Julio Fernandez, bassist Scott Ambush and drummer Lionel Cordew– have a wide range of ages, which accounts for the wide variety of songs selected to “warp.” Stylistically, the quintet mines jazz of every primary hue – straight-ahead, contemporary and fusion – along with R&B, pop, rock, Latin and country music.
“Vinyl Tap” opens with a hipster’s mashup of “Secret Agent Man” and “Alfie’s Theme.” The “warping” continues with a Latin big band revision ofCream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.” Listeners are caressed during a yearning exploration into the soulful depths ofThe Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes.” The beats are layered on the percussion-heavy revisit ofWar’s “The Cisco Kid.”The Beatles’ “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” becomes a sweet soprano sax serenade whileSqueeze’s “Tempted” is recreated as a bluesy, power rock ballad. Complex rhythms highlight an incendiary fusion presentation ofOliver Nelson’s jazz standard “Stolen Moments.”Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Carry On” brings the session to a climactic conclusion with gusto.
Catch Spyro Gyra on tour on the following dates:
October 23 Cancun Jazz Festival Puerto Aventuras, Mexico
October 26 Guinness Cork Jazz Festival Cork, Ireland
October 27 Pizza Express Live London, England
October 28 Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Netherlands
October 29 Paard Club The Hague, Netherlands
November 1 Bahrain JazzFest Al Mazrowiah, Bahrain
November 5 & 6 Blue Note Milano Milan, Italy
November 8 Anfiteatro Comunale di Mogoro Mogoro, Italy
November 9 Ingolstadt Jazztage Ingolstadt, Germany
November 10 Quasimodo Berlin, Germany
November 12 Hangar 11 Tel Aviv, Israel
November 15 New Jersey Performing Arts Center Newark, NJ
November 16 Tupelo Music Hall Derry, NH
November 20 Infinity Music Hall Norfolk, CT
November 21 Spire Center for the Performing Arts Plymouth, MA
November 22 Ludlow Garage Cincinnati, OH
November 23 Saugatuck Center for the Arts Saugatuck, MI