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Transportive Modern Jazz
Down the Wire
(Heads Up International)
By Ronke Oyekunle
Spyro Gyra's Down the Wire easily demonstrates what a modern jazz album should sound like. It is smooth, upbeat, and points to an era of music (the 1980s). The album highlights the band's eclectic make up and the band's longevity in the industry (even featuring some of Spyro Gyro's old band members).
The title track "Down the Wire" begins heavy on the brass and guitar. The song has a strong rock vibe and remains upbeat. The second track "Unspoken" sounds more complicated. It starts slow with nice trills from the guitar, but then shifts towards the end to an upbeat Calypso like tempo. "Island Pond" shows great technique and mastery of the saxophone with the great intonation that creates this slow beautifully melodic song.
The middle song "Ice Mountain" has an undercurrent of sound reminiscent of the beat from Michael Jackson's "Thriller", but like "Unspoken", it changes tempo midway to a sound heavy on piano with a very complex structure. The appropriately titled "A Distant Memory" plays like thoughts of a person remembering a time. The sound is less modern and more like the jazz sound of a Charlie Parker and a Louis Armstrong (both artists band leader Jay Beckenstein says influenced him while growing up).
The album returns to the modern '80s jazz feel with "Make it Mine." The song sounds like a blend of the P-funk song "Atomic Dog" by George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and the R&B song "My Prerogative" by Bobby Brown.
All in all, Down the Wire demonstrates this band's wide range and great technique. Each song keeps the listener in tune by changing tempo, a complex structure, or a familiar sound.
Visit www.headsup.com for more information on Spyro Gyra.