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Booking Spyro Gyra

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The staff of Headline Booking Group will work with you to produce a memorable event. Get started now by filling out our no-obligation Artist Request Form and we will work with you to book Spyro Gyra or another Blues & Jazz artist for your event.


In 1997, saxophonist Jay Beckenstein and his band Spyro Gyra celebrated twenty years of recording with their 20th album, 20/20. Though the band actually began in Buffalo, New York in 1975, 1977 marked the release of their first self-titled album, featuring the (instant) instrumental smash, ‘Shaker Song’. In 1997, to commemorate all those years of music and touring, Spyro Gyra did what they always do; hit the road for a spring to fall tour. Only this time, they recorded the proceedings every night.


The result is Road Scholars, the second live concert album of Spyro Gyra’s career (the first was the double LP Access All Areas from 1984). Unlike ‘Access’, which was recorded over three nights in Florida, the new album was culled from over sixty performances throughout the year from all over the USA, plus one new studio recording titled ‘Best Friends’, recorded at Jay Beckenstein’s BearTracks Studio in Suffern, NY.

The songs chosen date as far back as the debut Spyro Gyra disc to as recent as the previous 20/20 collection. The most radically and thoroughly exciting new arrangement comes on a 10-minute ‘Shaker Song’, the smash that started it all. It was made even more popular when vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer recorded a vocal version (with lyrics composed by Allee Willis and David Lasley) on their 1979 album, Extensions – one year after the original was released.

Thinking back on twenty years of concerts that have earned him the tongue-firmly-in-cheek honor of ‘road scholar’, Jay states, ‘Spyro Gyra played clubs for two years before we put out a record. But once we put out our first album (Spyro Gyra – 1977),things progressed really quickly for us. Our second album (Morning Dance – 1979) was a platinum seller and suddenly we were playing in some of the biggest venues around. Since then, my life has been a very long, amazing and satisfying journey, playing for thousands of people every year.’ On the name, Jay shares, ‘The ‘spirogira’ is an algae I once wrote a paper on in college for a biology class. Years later I was in a bar called Jack Daniels’ on Forrest Avenue in Buffalo, New York. The club owner (Tommy Telesco) was twisting my arm for a band name. As a joke, I remembered spirogira. Tommy went and misspelled it ‘Spyro Gyra’. That’s the way it was advertised and that’s the way it stuck.’

The band came along at a time when there wasn’t a radio format catering to the contemporary instrumental sounds of Spyro Gyra and contemporaries such as Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn, Tom Scott and Grover Washington, Jr.. ‘Back then we were exploring this music as an adventure,’ Jay states. ‘That same idea is behind this live album: Playing the music we love with the same enthusiasm that we had when we first started playing just for the love of it. We just happen to have been fortunate enough to get the breaks that allowed us to build a lifetime of performing experience from it. Hopefully, that’s what you hear when you read ‘between the lines’ of this album.’

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