If you think you’ve heard it all from fusion jazz supergroup Spyro Gyra, think again! Their latest album, hot off the Heads Up label, showcases original songwriting and the showstopping performances that continue to thrill audiences everywhere. As masters of improvisation, they stay true to the music, allow its full expression, then let it take on a life of its own. The reality is, Wrapped In A Dream is a masterpiece and this record is a fan’s dream!
Jay Beckenstein (saxophones/keys/percussion/flutes, and vocals), Tom Schuman (keys), Julio Fernandez (guitars), Scott Ambush (electric/acoustic bass) & Josh Dion and Ludwig Afonso (drums) offer a plethora of highlights. As well, special guest artists add their touch and include one of the original members Dave Samuels (marimba/vibes), plus Nathan Eklund (trumpet), Eric Oliver (trombone) and Cyro Baptista (percussion). You’ll want to take time to savor a taste of Spain because like a finely-aged snifter of port, Impressions of Madrid has a complex spirit. The soprano sax, acoustic guitar, and marimba stylings bring intense flavor. Then with a variation on a theme, flute lines become a melodic bridge transforming this song into Impressions of Toledo. As if in a trance, the arrangement changes and guitar lines become electrified, while bass & piano works are bolder and different percussive elements capture new feelings. Worlds apart, these songs like the cities they serenade are both unique, yet equally alluring. Brilliant!
There’s also a more traditional feel on the project, and Spyro Gyra discovers the cerebral side of Wrapped In A Dream. Straight-ahead enthusiasts will appreciate this beautiful ensemble piece. Contemporary fans will also get their due with the blues-tinged After The Storm or the mid-tempo Midnight Thunder (written by Chuck Loeb) which happens to be the first radio single. Then park the car and enjoy the scenic route as Walkin’ Home explores a carefree saxophonic melody, moving guitar lines and an exhilarating keyboard solo.
I love Wrapped In A Dream and with cool-vibed songs like The Voodooyoodoo and Woogitybop, not only does it add new vocabulary and innovative music to my repertoire, it also confirms the fact: the band that first turned me on to contemporary jazz, is still workin’ its magic!