In a studio in Rhinebeck, NY, the members of Spyro Gyra agreed to spend 3 days collectively improvising. After writing and recording for those 3 days, their new album, “The Rhinebeck Sessions,” was created. The legendary group has been making music and pleasing fans for over 35 years. Jay Beckenstein, the saxophone player, played all through school. His father exposed him to artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. While in Germany with his father on an Army base, he had the opportunity to play in bands and was introduced to R&B. He later returned to the states and attended college in NY. When Jay graduated, he spent time working in bands around town and eventually reconnected with his friend Jeremy Wall. Together they would evolve into what we now know as Spyro Gyra. Much to their surprise, their early project skyrocketed, and the group sold over tens of thousands of records in a year. They immediately captured the attention of an audience that loved their music. Jay describes the group as an instrumental ensemble that rarely has vocals. He credits the band’s tendency to be natural, pure, unpretentious musicians who put the welfare of the band before themselves with its longevity. This is evident still when listening to “The Rhinebeck Sessions.” Although some may think it’s edgier than previous albums, it’s also Spyro Gyra at their best. Jay would like the legacy of Spyro Gyra to be that their music impacted a new generation.
Rick Braun has been entertaining us for many years with his chart topping award winning hits. He’s collaborated with some of the best to bring us songs like “Shake it Up” with Boney James which won the Best Collaboration Award. His work with Richard Elliott in “RNR” went to #1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. It’s no surprise that he’s a much sought after producer. He’s definitely proven that he has what it takes.
Rick is skilled in more than just one area of music which makes him versatile as an artist. He’s a vocalist who was once a back-up singer for artists like Rod Steward, Sade, and Tina Turner. That’s something that most people probably wouldn’t know. Now he’s chosen to display his vocals on his latest project titled “Rick Braun Sings With Strings.” He covered songs that we all know and love such as “Time After Time,” and some we may not be as familiar with like “Once Upon A Summertime.” Rick created a project that would beautifully display his trumpet playing skills, as well as his vocal abilities.
Rick tells me all about it.
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I had the pleasure of hearing the legendary Arturo Sandoval perform a few days ago. It was a performance like I had never seen before. Arturo was born in Cuba, and started studying the trumpet at the age of 12. He is the protege of Dizzy Gillespie, and when you listen to his music, you can hear the Gillespie influence. It didn’t take long for Sandoval to grasp the reigns of the world of jazz. He does it all. Not only did he master the trumpet, but he is also a classical pianist, and composer. Adding to his list of accomplishments, Arturo was nominated 17 times for a Grammy, and has won 9. To add to that collection, he has an Emmy, and 6 Billboard Awards. Sandoval is still making amazing music, and performing while also writing a book to be released soon titled “The Man Who Saved Me.” It is a book about the relationship he shared with Dizzy Gillespie.
My experience while listening, and observing Arturo perform was breathtaking. I don’t even think that’s descriptive enough to portray my feelings. His voice is an instrument, and he know how to use it like one. He doesn’t fail to miss a single note on the music scale. Amazing!! I enjoyed his ability to be extremely diverse in his performance. Unlike any other artist I’ve ever seen. He sang, he played the trumpet, he played keyboards, and he played percussion. It was electrifying to watch him on stage with non-stop, unwavering energy from start to finish. Each of his band members were equally as awesome in their individual solos. Did I mention that Sandoval even scatted during a song? That was one of those “WOW” moments for me. I was blown away. I thought to myself, what else can he do? Well, he showed me what else he could do. While performing a single song, he went from playing the trumpet, to the keyboard, to percussion, to singing. He just went back and forth from one to the other. I was mesmerized. I left Arturo Sandoval’s performance knowing that I had been in the company of one of the best artist ever.
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