Spyro Gyra

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Last Show: Sunday 27 th October 2019

PizzaExpress Live (Holborn)

Spyro Gyra is an unlikely story of a group with humble beginnings in Buffalo, NY who has continued to reach an international audience over forty years, resulting in sales of over 10 million albums and having played over five thousand shows on five continents. They have accomplished this due to a forward looking approach combined with the work ethic of an underdog, always challenging themselves to do something new while never resting on past success. It has proven to be a recipe for longevity for this jazz group while music has gone in and out of styles in ever shorter cycles.

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Spyro Gyra released their last, their 30th, album of new material The Rhinebeck Sessions in 2013, which Jazztimes called 'inspired'. Travis Rogers of the Jazz Journalists Association picked it for Jazz Album Of The Year. Something Else Reviews called it 'Their finest album since their early 80s heyday' and made it a TopTwenty pick for the year. George Harris of the Jazz Weekly enthused, 'I gotta tell ya, these guys still sound GREAT."

In addition to bandleader Jay Beckenstein (saxophones), the group is made up of Tom Schuman (keyboards), Julio Fernandez (guitars), Scott Ambush (bass) and newcomer Lionel Cordew on drums.Tom Schuman made his first appearance on the band's eponmymous debut forty years ago. Julio Fernandez joined the band in 1984 and Scott Ambush joined in 1992.

Born in Brooklyn, bandleader Jay Beckenstein grew up listening to the music of Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie, and started playing the saxophone at age seven. Beckenstein attended the University at Buffalo, starting out as a biology major before changing to music performance (read classical and avant garde). The thriving Buffalo music scene soon offered new avenues of rock, soul and blues to explore. "Not many people know it, but Buffalo was like a mini Chicago back then, with a smoking blues, soul, jazz, even rockabilly scene, of all things," Beckenstein muses. "After being confined to classical music for so long, it was heaven. I was in the horn sections around town, backing some great vocalists."

Band Lineup

Jay Beckenstein (saxophones)

Tom Schuman (keyboards)

Julio Fernandez (guitars)

Scott Ambush (bass)

Lionel Cordew (drums)