Spyro Gyra: Collection

It has been a dozen years and even more albums since ”Morning Dance” became the fluke 1979 pop-chart hit that sent happy-jazz kings Spyro Gyra into the orbit they’ve never quite escaped from. Collection, the new ”best of” amounts to an interesting history of the innocuous pop-jazz genre, tracing their patently predictable discography while also introducing a few new ditties in the group’s standard carefree vein. Leader Jay Beckenstein’s alto sax is tidy and free of anxiety; vibist Dave Samuels adds his almost comically suave tropical air; and Tom Schuman keeps his keyboards housebroken. At its best, as on ”Incognito,” Spyro Gyra finds a middle ground between obvious melodic hooks and intelligent twisting phrases. Generally, though, it’s hard to hear their cheery sound and not think of pina coladas, sipped generously over after-work shop talk. The best that can be said for Spyro Gyra is that they have mastered a style that has little to do with instrumental prowess and maybe less to do with the fundamentals of jazz. C+

Spyro Gyra: Collection
  • Music