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In Modern Times Enhanced


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Audio CD, Enhanced, May 22, 2001
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 22, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Heads Up
  • ASIN: B00005JH7I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,057 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. After Hours
2. Feelin' Fine
3. Julio's Party
4. The River Between
5. Groovin' For Grover
6. Open Door
7. Florida Straits
8. Feelin' Fine Pt.2
9. East River Blue
10. Your Touch
11. Lucky Bounce
12. Planet J

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This is a different kind of release for Spyro Gyra. Jay Beckenstein seems to be searching for a new sound for the organization he has led for nearly 25 years, though that observation is not detectable on the three very radio-friendly tracks that lead off this CD. From there on, the contributions from the other members are more pronounced and a bit more progressive than the usual smooth-jazz fare from this former Buffalo bar band. From bassist Scott Ambush's lead role on the melody to "The River Between" to guitarist Julio Fernandez's long flowing featured line on "Open Door" to drummer Joel Rosenblatt's very Crusaders-like "Planet J," featuring guest trombonist Andrew Lippman, it's obvious that musically, Spyro is becoming less of Beckenstein's saxophone band, and more of a democratic group. But the most surprising tunes, from a compositional standpoint, were written by the leader, including the Santana-inspired "Florida Straits," and "East River Blue," which has traces of the crime-jazz music Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini pioneered in the early '60s. --Mark Ruffin

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
64%
4 star
25%
3 star
11%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 28 customer reviews
I consider this one of the best of anything I ever heard!
bronxer
Of all the great songs on this CD, the ones that grabbed my attention were the aforementioned Florida Straits, Lucky Bounce, and both Feelin' Fine grooves.
G. J Wiener
Julio sounds great, but he sounds like Julio, and no one else!
Dr. Of Style

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Of Style on October 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Greetings and sincerest salutations, friends.

You can read some of my other reviews for disclaimers, qualifications, and opinion bases.

This is quite a fantstic album! Quite unlike most, if not all Spyro Gyra (SG) recordings. Great songs (lyrical and melodic, funky and soulful) abound, as well as terrific musicianship.

SG is what I have always labled as a Progressive Jazz Band. My musician friend once said to me that "jazz has reached its end; it's all been done before." Well, I have proclaimed that SG was the group that has changed attitudes such as this. They have usually had a fresh and lyrical approach to music, be it called "fusion" or "jazz."

On this recording, right from the beginning, we have some catchy, bluesy/soulful/funky tunes. I am assuming that "Groovin' For Grover" is a tribute to the late, great Grover Washington, Jr. It is a great tune with Jay on the Soprano (an instrument I usually dislike, no matter who's playing it).

And while this is a very good recording for the group, it is the last four tunes that make this an exceptional (5-star) album. IMHO, these may be the best four consecutive tunes on any SG album!

"East River Blue"--enter Mr. B-3! How wonderful this sounds! Jay chimes in on a very sultry, bluesy tenor (I prefer Jay's tenor work). This is a Blues song supreme! Tom, I know Jimmy Smith can hear you, and I'm sure he's applauding! This is just a GREAT song!

"Your Touch" is quite a beautiful song! Jay has never sounded better than he plays here. Full of heartfelt melody and romantic softness, we then expand into some funky changes! This is great! Tom takes us back to the bridge with some wonderfully delicate keyboard work; quite a nice touch!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Levinson on June 14, 2002
Format: Audio CD
They were one of the first bands to play smooth jazz and they are among the best. Just about every track on this disc could drop right into any smooth jazz radio playlist in the country. This disc works well as foot-tapping background music, although they throw in enough musical flair to reward careful listening. With apologies to Howard Rumsey, no one makes better music for light house-keeping than Spyro Gyra!
Bandleader Jay Beckenstein usually states the melody and takes at least one solo on every tune, but Tom Schuman gets a number of solos on various keyboards, and adds tasteful fills elsewhere. Julio Fernandez gets a few chances to display some of his guitar technique, most notably his Santana-influenced solo on the Latin number. Joel Rosenblatt and Scott Ambush establish solid, danceable grooves on every upbeat track, and even play a convincing swing rhythm on the one soulful bop tune, "East River Blues".
I agree with the reviewer who felt that Beckenstein gets his best tone on alto, but the overall excellence of the ensemble and the polish of the arrangements overcome his limitations on tenor and soprano. Stanley Turrentine and Grover Washington are apparently two of Jay's idols, so he can be forgiven for reaching a bit.
There's no single melody as memorable as "Morning Dance", but this is an overall very listenable album. Although their live albums are generally their best, this is a quite enjoyable addition to their impressive catalog. I haven't yet checked out the extra video and bios on this enhanced CD, but the music alone makes this a good value, whether or not you're a serious fan.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chuck S. on June 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
In this day and age of "smooth" jazz, it's nice to know that you can count on Spyro Gyra to come out with a halfway decent album. Since Spyro is a band, you get drums, not drum programming. All 5 members contributed to the songwriting (as they had done on "20/20"). Also, long time cohort Jeremy Wall contributes to the album with "Lucky Bounce". This track, plus "Florida Straits" are my favorites. Speaking of "Florida Straits", one thing missing on this album is a guest appearance by former S.G. member Dave Samuels. "Straits" sounds like a Caribbean Jazz Project song and Dave's vibraphone would have enhanced it further. Anyway, Julio Fernandez provides some great guitar on it. The only song I don't care for is "Your Touch", but I never go much for slower ones like this. Much of this record is upbeat; there are only 2 songs that are slow; 2 or 3 others are mid-tempo. You may need a second listen before you agree it's a worthwile CD to add, but long time Spyro fans should enjoy it. In summation, I feel it's not quite up to 20/20 or Dreams Beyond Control, but definitely better than Got the Magic.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Corey Taylor on June 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I have been huge fan of Spyro Gyra since the mid-eighties, and having seen them live seven times, respect their considerable musical abilities. As studio releases go, I consider this one to be better than "Got the Magic" (which I strongly disliked), but not as good as "20/20", "Three Wishes", or "Heart of the Night". The problem I have with this disc is the same as with "Got the Magic" - it is way too smooth. The proliferation of the smooth jazz format on FM radio has resulted in otherwise excellent bands turning out bland, overly processed jazz-pop. Every song ends up sounding the same - slow, smooth, and a bit too much like Muzak. I think Spyro Gyra has fallen prey to this to some extent. This disc does have some standout tracks with a funky or latin beat, and for this reason I think it is better than GTM. The notable tracks are 'Florida Straits', 'Feelin fine pt.2', 'East River Blue'(in which they actually play straight ahead jazz for a minute or so), and 'Planet J.' The other eight tracks I could do without - they all sound the same to me. Sonically, the entire disc is excellent and well produced - I do think this is one of their best sounding discs. It's too bad the music isn't as good as the production.
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