This is the second release for Spyro Gyra on the Telarc affiliated
Heads Up label. This format is SACD hybrid that plays on all SACD
and CD players. The 6-channel discrete surround (DSD) or multi-channel
sound is compatible only with the new SACD players. Even though I
did not listen to this CD on the newer equipment, I did notice a clarity
and brightness in the sound otherwise not found in regular digital CD format.
Original Cinema is the latest offering from jazz-fusion pioneers
Spyro Gyra. They may not sound like the trailblazers that they
were 1976 when they broke onto the scene with their brand of original
and unusual fusion, but they most certainly have plenty to offer the
discerning jazz lover today. They sound wonderful, although the once
groundbreaking fusion sound that made them special has changed; it
is still fusion, just with a different mellower feel. They are more
of a funky contemporary and smooth jazz outfit now featuring the occasional
rock-like guitar licks. Even so, there is plenty to celebrate here
as this recording offers up a generous cross section of musical diversity.
They have an infectious and catchy rhythm (Bump It Up and Extrovertical)
as a solid base to work from in each track. With the help of several
outstanding guest musicians, their core sound is changed and accentuated
with such standout players such as Andy Narell, one of the worlds
most prolific steel drum players. There is an underlying current in
their characteristic river of sound that helps with defining the grand
scheme of things, and that is the additional musicians. Narell and
fellow percussionist David Charles, Mino Cinelu and Marc Qui¤ones,
lend a tasteful down to earth funky rhythmic element to the music.
It is like going away to distant lands to experience different cultures.
Dave Samuels and his vibraphone, which adds a touch of class to the
mix, is also a welcome addition. I need not understate the importance
of the main players though; they make this musical cornucopia function.
Jay Beckensteins saxophone is the archetypal instrument that every
composition stems from. His playing is so commanding that it stands
out and shines proudly waiting for accompaniment, and the band would
be foolish not to allow him to take the lead. This does not underscore
the rest of the band by any means; they are just as important to the
outcome of each track as he is.
I found it very difficult to put this album on the shelf. I listened
several times with great pleasure. There are not lot of albums I have
heard in the past that I actually think of playing on a regular basis,
like The Yellowjackets irresistible Samurai Samba or
the incomparable duo of Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour on the classic
Latin jazz mix Harlequin. Few albums have that special magic
that draws me in like a magnet; this album did that for me. In the
end, the fact that Spyro Gyra no longer plays jazz-fusion as
they once did really did not matter. This great album will help everyone
forget all of that quickly, except for diehard fusion folks that probably
stopped listening to their music once they changed their style anyway.
Now this album is offered in a great new format so the person with
the advanced stereo equipment can enjoy it even more, and those that
do not can enjoy it just as much with what they have, which makes
it that much more appealing to the music connoisseur in all of us.
Another note of interest that I feel is worth mentioning is that all
the members of the band had a hand in the production of this album
as well, which is a credit to their many years of experience and know
how in the recording studio.
1. Bump It Up - 4:52
2. Extrovertical - 6:21
3. Dream Sequence - 5:01
4. Party of Seven - 4:51
5. Big Dance Number - 3:27
6. Film Noir - 6:12
7. Close-Up - 3:47
8. Cape Town Love- 5:17
9. Handheld - 4:01
10. Funky Tina - 5:17
11. Getaway - 4:11
12. Calle Ocho - 5:30
13. Flashback - 3:36