Spyro Gyra: Shaker Song


Shaker Song


Spyro Gyra


Access All Areas (Amherst 28007)

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Jay Beckenstein (sax),

Dave Samuels (vibes, marimba), Tom Schuman (keyboards), Chet Catallo(guitar), Kim Stone (bass), Eli Konikoff (drums), Gerardo Velez (percussion)


Composed by Jay Beckenstein


Recorded: Gainesville, FL, November 17, 1983


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Perhaps the glossy '80s production is the reason this entire brand of jazz has been eliminated from the history books, but Spyro Gyra's "Shaker Song" is excellent. The audience's attraction to the band is clear, as rousing sax solos fuse the influences of the most renowned jazz giants while the percussion and vibes always soar high. Forethought was clearly involved in the music's preparation, as the players sound like their destinations are mapped out in advance with a clear trajectory in mind. On behalf of each player, however, an amazing level of impressive improvisatory talents is apparent. What is mind-boggling, though, is why the group is not mentioned more by ardent jazz fans. With recordings such as this in their canon, their particular take on the jazz genre (which incorporates percussive and scalar elements of world music) is formidable, and while this track is performed at a relaxed tempo, the interplay throughout remains intense. The personnel are well rehearsed, functioning as a slick, well-oiled machine, and their multi- directional solos catalyze the rhythm section. Often, lead players are accompanied by flourishes from other instruments that match the soloist's tone exactly. As a complementary ensemble, it's tough to top this crew.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary


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