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Spyro Gyra Live at Yoshi's

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Jazz Fusion returns to Oakland.

Formed in 1974 in Buffalo New York came a band named after green algae, (Spirogyra), and then spelled wrong by a venue owner in the early days ending up to be, Spyro Gyra. This bands' sound is a combination of jazz, funk, R&B and pop. Founder Jay Beckenstein is the only original member with more than 20 members that have come and gone in the past 48 years. The five piece Spyro Gyra that played this past weekend at Yoshi's comprised of Jay Beckenstein on saxophones, Lionel Cordew - drums, Julio Fernández - guitar, Scott Ambush-bass, and Chris Fisher-keys. Both nights (3 shows) were completely sold out.

This was my first time seeing them play, although the friend I went with had seen them before at a large venue at the JVC Jazz Festival in 1989 opening for Miles Davis. After the Yoshi's show on Saturday night he said that the experience seeing Spyro Gyra at a small venue like Yoshi's was a very different experience. He also said that he thought both shows were excellent. As this was my only time seeing this band I was sufficiently impressed, even though jazz isn't my favorite genre, (I'm more a rock n roll or punk girl)...I did enjoy the evening and I thought the music was great and the players were all pure pro. At one point Beckenstein played two saxes at the same time (pictured below). I especially liked their last song of the set, "Tempted" by Squeeze. I detected it was the Squeeze song but Spyro Gyra put their own spin on it. And it sounded amazing. The end of it was a Jay Beckenstein highlight on the sax. He blew notes that I've never heard before and held for so long I thought he was going to pass out! All in all, fun night, fab music, in a great venue, (I always love Yoshi's).

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