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Spyro Gyra's 'Down The Wire' Relies on Improvisation to Get Fans Dancing



It's been 30 years since the release of the catchy pop-jazz hit "Morning Dance" by a little-known group from Buffalo, New York called Spyro Gyra. But for Spyro Gyra, the best was yet to come.

The summer of '79 was never the same after "Morning Dance" hit the radio airwaves. The tune, with its breezy tropical beat and swirling saxophone melody, put Spyro Gyra on the fast track to pop-jazz stardom.

2009 finds Spyro Gyra in top form. Coming off of its third consecutive Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album, the group has released another sure-fire crowd pleaser, Down The Wire.

Leading the five-man band, as he's done since the beginning, is saxophonist and producer Jay Beckenstein, who co-wrote "The Tippin' Point" with Spyro Gyra's only other remaining original member, keyboardist Tom Schuman. Also on board, are bassist Scott Ambush, guitarist Julio Fernandez and drummer and percussionist Bonny B.

Of course, no Spyro Gyra album would be complete without a nod to Latin jazz.

"La Zona Rosa" features guest percussionist Mark Quinones.

Fans may notice a little more rock, funk and jazz improvisation than on previous albums. For bandleader Jay Beckenstein, keeping audiences at the edge of their seats, or even better, dancing in the aisles, is the quintet's ultimate goal. He says, "When you're improvising in front of a crowd, you're really walking down that wire."

Spyro Gyra is gearing up for a busy season of jazz festivals with a tour that takes the group to Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Ukraine and more than a dozen cities across the U.S.

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