Spyro Gyra

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Over the years, Spyro Gyra's music has ranged from inspired and boldly creative to bloodless and unimaginative -- a fact this 1991 retrospective makes abundantly clear. The band is at its risk-taking best on the haunting, Spanish-influenced "Old San Juan," the passionate, Afro-Cuban-flavored "Para Ti Latino" and the driving jazz-rock scorcher "Breakout," but disappoints bitterly on such forgettable, radio-oriented "muzak" as "Catching the Sun" and the Kenny G-ish "The Unknown Soldier." Exciting one minute and dull the next, this CD illustrates that while leader Jay Beckenstein could have taken his band to great artistic heights, he held it back artistically by so often resorting to formula.

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