So you think fusion has indeed turned cold?
Jay Beckenstein, founder, leader, saxophonist and producer of Spyro Gyra, Billboard's Top Jazz Group of the 1980s, agrees.Jazz fusion, that is.
"I think the whole idea behind fusion . . . has run down," says Beckenstein.
In jazz terms, fusion is created musically by combining various elements to come up with something new. But these days, Beckenstein says, "I don't hear much that I haven't heard before. And the original reason I got into fusion was that I wasn't hearing that much in traditional jazz that I hadn't already heard."
Spyro Gyra featuring Jay Beckenstein (a slightly new name for the band's devotees to assimilate) will be making its annual visit to Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 27, performing at 8 p.m. in Kingsbury Hall. And this time around, Spyro Gyra promises to offer a few surprising sound changes.
Beckenstein and his popular band produced album No. 14, "Fast Forward," with the intention of creating a reinvigorated sound without losing the best of jazz.
One new thing Utah fans can anticipate is Beckenstein on tenor sax. Having only played it a few times on albums in the last 10 years, Beckenstein feels this departure from the identifiable Spyro Gyra "fusionesque" sound will "Fast Forward" the group into the '90s.
The addition of percussionist Marc Quinones (who previously played/recorded with David Byrne of Talking Heads) and the recent signing with the critically acclaimed jazz label GRP Records has inspired Spyro Gyra to move forward with a fresh, innovative sound guaranteed to ignite the always-faithful Utah audience.
Spyro Gyra's unique blending of jazz, rock, Latin, R&B and funk initially propelled the group into the gold and platinum category of recording artists in the '80s.
Creative leader Beckenstein was entertained as an infant by Charlie Parker records played by his jazz aficionado father. At age 6, he started saxophone at school in Farmingdale, N.Y. After studying avant-garde jazz in college, Beckenstein eventually formed the band that leapt to prominence with its distinct jazz instrumental, "Morning Dance."
In Spyro Gyra's music, Beckenstein's saxophone fills the spot usually reserved for a lead singer. The other six members contribute an eclectic mood mix that evokes the listener's individual interpretation.
Spyro Gyra's yearly 150-concert schedule worldwide has helped maintain the group's popularity in the "hybrid" jazz field.
Appearing with Spyro Gyra will be The Underpaid Professors, a modern-Latin-jazz flavored group whose members are really music profs at the University of Utah.
Tickets for the one performance are available at Sound Off Records, Graywhale CDs, Smokey's Records, Stargazer, the Salt Palace and Kingsbury Hall.
Tickets are $15.50 reserved, or $13.50 with student ID at Kingsbury Hall only.