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Best of WNY.com/Reviews  /  Best of WNY Music.com
 Concert Review
By Bob Silvestri

     The Williamsville Music Boosters presented a spectacular evening of jazz on October 22nd at Williamsville South High School.
      World-renowned group Spyro Gyra headlined the show with a brilliant opening set from the Williamsville East, North and South High School jazz bands. Each band played in rotating order and performed about four pieces each. This fine crop of performers shows that the future of music is indeed safe. I’m quite sure many of these talented kids will achieve future success in music. You could tell all of them worked hard for this highly polished performance. Since all of the groups played and sounded great we don’t really want to single anyone in particular, but some were just too good not to. One of the most stunning moments was Williamsville East pianist Chris Ziemba on his own composition; a Latin tinged number called “St. Tropez”. East saxophonist Dave DiGiacomo was also outstanding on this piece. Other performers drawing loud responses were South’s J.P. Reed for his trumpet solo on “Clifford” and North’s Nick Meyer for his trombone soloing.
     After a brief intermission, Spryo Gyra hit the stage. From their humble Buffalo roots to world –renowned jazz-fusion innovators; they have indeed come a long way. Together for over twenty years, the core of the band remains Jay Beckenstein and Tom Schuman. The remaining musicians have been with Spyro Gyra for over ten years now. Julio Fernandez (guitar) provided delights by hammering, bending and laying out chord progressions. Scott Ambush (bass) played a tight groove all night and was “in the pocket” of the syncopated drumming of Joel Rosenblatt. Tom Schuman helps to define Spyro’s signature sound with his keyboard flourishes and synthesizer sounds. The always reliable smooth playing of front man and saxophonist Jay Beckenstein rounds out the band.
     The two-hour set started with “After Hours” from their new CD “In Modern Times” and continued into the old favorite “Catching The Sun”. Alternating between older and new material, the band performed “Song For Lorraine”, “Florida Straits”, A Rosenblatt composition “South American Sojourn”, and “Song For Grover” dedicated to the late jazz sax great and native Buffalonian, Grover Washington Jr. Also featured were two Beckenstein solo numbers, the great Charlie Mingus classic, “Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat” and his own composition titled “Monsoon”. They wrapped up the show with their ubiquitous hit “Morning Dance”.
     Afterwards the band came out to sign autographs and to chat with old friends. Our thanks to Gary Stith from the Williamsville School system for his assistance and of course to Spyro Gyra. For more information about the Williamsville music program go to www.williamsvillek12.org/music.html for more on Spyro Gyra go to www.spyrogyra.com

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