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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Spyro Gyra

A Foreign Affair

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit that I haven’t kept up with Spyro Gyra over the years. So, I was pretty surprised to hear vocals on this disc. No, not all the songs have vocals, and overall this album is the type of sounds you’d expect from Spyro Gyra. I guess I’d say that fans of the group will love it. It probably won’t earn them a lot of new fans, though. That said, they do stretch out a bit (as one might guess) into various world music here and there, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Caribe

There’s a killer bass line that drives this cut and the band weave melody around that backdrop. As the title suggests, there’s a bit of an island element to be found in this number.

Khuda
We get a definite mellow Latin element on this number and there are some vocals (although they aren’t in English). It’s mellow and seductive and quite worldly.
Sweet Ole Thang
This mellow jazz jam is more like the kind of music expected on a Spyro Gyra release. That doesn’t mean that it’s music by the numbers, and, in fact, we get another journey into the island in the midst of this. It just means that it’s more familiar territory than the first couple pieces here.
Falling Walls
Another that’s more like the fusion we’re used to from Spyro Gyra, this one also calls to mind Al Dimeola and Jean-Luc Ponty a bit at times. It’s a great groove with killer energy and melody.
Shinjuku
This particular fusion jam has a decent amount of rock built into it and at times it calls to mind Pat Metheny a bit.
Chileno Boys

Acoustic guitar with a decidedly Latin bent leads this off. Then it launches out into a killer jam. This is another piece that includes vocals. At times this is a rather stripped down number, but other points features many layers of sound.

Samba for Two
Featuring a smoking groove and inspired performances from all musicians, this is another tasty piece of fusion. It’s not a stretch for Spyro Gyra at all, but when it’s this good, that doesn’t matter.
Canção de Ninar
Here’s a mellow jazz number with a lot of Latin sound on board. It’s another classy tune on a disc that’s full of them.
Antigua
Piano leads things off in an old school jazz manner. They take it out into a Latin styled number that feels very traditional. It works towards more fusion oriented territory as it continues, but the whole journey is very organic.
Last Call
A slow moving jazz ballad, this one features vocals. It really feels like a café jazz trio kind of song.
Dancing On Table Mountain
Starting slow and mellow, this powers out into a powerhouse fusion groove and is one of the best cuts on the whole set. It has some killer twists and turns along the road and really does make the best choice to close out the set in style.
 
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