Various Artists

Skye & Gryphon for Apres-Midi Grand Cru

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A companion to the earlier Skye & Gryphon for Café Apres-midi set also compiled by the always-reliable Toru Hashimoto, this entry in the Grand Cru series delves further into the archives of the Skye label, formed in New York City in 1968 by vibist Cal Tjader, guitarist Gabor Szabo, and composer Gary McFarland. Directed by the artists' manager, Norman Schwartz, Skye reflected its principals' collective ambition to fuse jazz with contemporary pop music and in doing so return jazz to mainstream prominence. Despite an excellent and eclectic output that even included sunshine pop siblings Wendy & Bonnie's cult classic Genesis, the label's lifespan proved far too short, and in 1970, with just 20 LPs under its belt, Skye dissolved, with Schwartz later founding the equally short-lived Gryphon imprint. The music here captures jazz at its most dreamlike and sun-kissed, embracing pop, soul, and Latin flourishes that align beautifully with the psychedelia that experienced its own heyday at the same time. Highlights include Szabo's "Ferris Wheel," Tjader's "A Message to Michael," and McFarland's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix."