Spyro Gyra

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Spyro Gyra
Spyro Gyra in concert
Spyro Gyra in concert
Background information
OriginBuffalo, New York, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, smooth jazz
Years active1974–present
LabelsAmherst, MCA, GRP, Windham Hill, Heads Up
Past members

Spyro Gyra /ˌsprˈrə/ is an American jazz fusion band that was formed in Buffalo, New York, in 1974. The band's music combines jazz, R&B, funk, and pop music. The band's name comes from Spirogyra, a genus of green algae which founder Jay Beckenstein had learned about in college.


Early years[edit]

Saxophonist Jay Beckenstein and keyboardist Jeremy Wall formed a band with jazz and rock musicians who were playing in the Buffalo bar and club circuit.[1] In 1974, when a bar owner asked for the band's name, Beckenstein said, "spirogyra", a type of algae he had learned about in school.[1] The bar owner wrote the name incorrectly, "Spyro Gyra", but it stuck.[1] The founding members of the band were Beckenstein, Wall, bassist Jim Kurzdorfer, drummer Tom Walsh, and keyboardist Tom Schuman.[1] In 1977, they released Spyro Gyra independently before making a deal with Amherst Records,[2] which re-released the album with a different cover. It included "Shaker Song," which reached No. 90 on Billboard's Hot 100,[3] No. 99 on the pop chart in Canada,[4] and No. 26 on the Canadian AC chart.[5]

Morning Dance reached No. 11 in the UK Albums Chart, No. 27 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, and No. 47 in Canada.[6] The song "Morning Dance" reached No. 17 in the UK Singles Chart,[7] No. 1 on the US Adult Contemporary singles chart,[8] No. 45 on the Canadian pop charts,[9] and No. 6 on the Canadian AC charts.[10] The album was certified gold in 1979, then platinum in 1987 by the RIAA.[11]

Later years[edit]

Spyro Gyra performs in Richmond, Virginia on February 23, 2017.

When Infinity Records folded, Catching the Sun was released on MCA in February 1980, becoming the No. 4 jazz album of 1980, peaking at No. 31 in the UK,[7] and No. 80 in Canada.[12]

Bassist Jim Kurzdorfer died of cancer in 2011.[13] Former drummer Ted Reinhardt died in an airplane crash on March 4, 2015, at the age of 63.[14] Mallet player Dave Samuels died on April 22, 2019, due to an undisclosed long-term illness.[15]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Year of Release Label
Spyro Gyra 1978 Amherst
Morning Dance 1979 MCA
Catching the Sun 1980 MCA
Carnaval 1980 MCA
Freetime 1981 MCA
Incognito 1982 MCA
City Kids 1983 MCA
Alternating Currents 1985 MCA
Breakout 1986 MCA
Stories Without Words 1987 MCA
Rites of Summer 1988 MCA
Point Of View 1989 MCA
Fast Forward 1990 GRP
Three Wishes 1992 GRP
Dreams Beyond Control 1993 GRP
Love and Other Obsessions 1995 GRP
Heart of the Night 1996 GRP
20/20 1997 GRP
Got the Magic 1999 Windham Hill
In Modern Times 2001 Heads Up
Original Cinema 2003 Heads Up
The Deep End 2004 Heads Up
Wrapped in a Dream 2006 Heads Up
Good to Go-Go 2007 Heads Up
A Night Before Christmas 2008 Heads Up
Down the Wire 2009 Heads Up
A Foreign Affair 2011 Amherst
The Rhinebeck Sessions 2013 Crosseyed Bear
Vinyl Tap 2019 Amherst

Live albums[edit]

Title Year of Release Label
Access All Areas 1984 MCA
Road Scholars 1998 GRP


Title Year of Release Label
Collection 1991 GRP
The Best of Spyro Gyra – The First Ten Years 1998 GRP
The Very Best of Spyro Gyra 2002 GRP

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy nominations[edit]

Other awards[edit]

  • George Benson Lifetime Achievement Award, Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards (2007)


  1. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Spyro Gyra | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  2. ^ Widran, Jonathan. "AboutHistory & Bios – Spyro Gyra". Spryo Gyra. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  4. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - July 29, 1978" (PDF).
  5. ^ "RPM Top 50 AO - August 19, 1978" (PDF).
  6. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums - July 14, 1979" (PDF).
  7. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 522. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  8. ^ "Spyro Gyra - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  9. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - September 1, 1979" (PDF).
  10. ^ "RPM Top 50 AC - September 8, 1979" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  12. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums - May 24, 1980" (PDF).
  13. ^ "R.I.P. Jim Kurzdorfer". Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  14. ^ Doc Rock. "January to June 2015". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  15. ^ West, Michael. "Dave Samuels 1948-2019". Jazz Times. Retrieved 8 May 2019.

External links[edit]