ro Gyra – Good To Go Go

Spyro Gyra
Good To Go Go
(Heads Up – 2007)

The entity known as Spyro Gyra is a marathon runner in the arena of contemporary jazz. For more than three decades, moving across a musical landscape marked by increasingly challenging terrain and accelerated change, they have maintained the well-deserved reputation as a viable and highly versatile creative force. Since their earliest recordings in the mid 1970s, they have maintained a fresh approach to their craft by borrowing from a range of sources and distilling them into an unmistakable signature sound.

The bouncy midtempo, “Simple Pleasures,” is tailor made for driving with the windows down on a warm summer evening, while the syncopated backbeat and subtle tonal shifts of uptempo “Get Busy” make for a challenging but fun melodic exercise.

Other highlights further into the set include “Funkyard Dog,” a fast-paced romp wherein Bonny B sets up a tight groove yet allows plenty of room for Beckenstein and the rest of his bandmates to shine, and “Island Time,” an energetic calypso track guaranteed to transport even the most urban-rooted listener directly to the islands. “A Winter Tale,” although upbeat in tempo and overall tone, is a bit more introspective, with generous contributions from Schuman and Fernandez.

The title track takes the album into the homestretch with a highly percussive drum/bass groove that sets up a large but well-grounded space for plenty of sax, keys and more. The closer, “Newroses” ratchets up the tempo and energy even higher, with all parties trading licks from more than six minutes all told. It’s the ideal closing statement by a band that refuses to be anything but forward-thinking and forward-pushing.

A new face in the Spyro Gyra lineup belongs to drummer/percussionist Bonny B (short for Bonaparte). The Trinidad native had been touring with the band for several months before they went into the studio to record Good To Go-Go, and the energy he brought to the party served as the catalyst for some fine tuning in the group’s overall philosophy. Bonny B joins saxophonist and Spyro Gyra founder Jay Beckenstein, keyboardist Tom Schuman, guitarist Julio Fernandez and bassist Scott Ambush in the five-man lineup.

Corny as it sounds, Spyro Gyra is Good To Go-Go.