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Rites of Summer

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Album Review

1998's Rites of Summer is the album on which Spyro Gyra once and for all abandons every pretense toward being anything other than a slickly commercial instrumental pop outfit with occasional feints toward the smoothest of smooth jazz. As always with Spyro Gyra, the slower and more impressionistic tunes are much more interesting than the upbeat songs. Where "Daddy's Got a New Girl Now" sounds like the backing track to an unreleased Deniece Williams single and "No Man's Land" and "Captain Karma" sound as if they were written as background music for the local forecasts on The Weather Channel, "Claire's Dream," by bandleader and saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, is haunting and memorable, and keyboardist Tom Schuman's "Innocent Soul" is a downright lovely mélange of Brian Eno and Erik Satie at their most lyrical. Fans who admired the more complex and occasionally even edgy sound of Spyro Gyra's earliest albums will be disappointed, but those who liked the rest of their '80s releases will find this comfortingly familiar.

Biography

Formed: 1974 in Buffalo, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Founded in 1974 by saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, Spyro Gyra have consistently been one of the commercially successfully pop-jazz groups of the past 30 years. The band became a full-time venture in 1976 and has been touring ever since. Critics love to attack this band's music, which combines R&B and elements of pop and Caribbean music with jazz, but its...
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Rites of Summer, Spyro Gyra
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