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Spyro Gyra: In Modern Times

In 2000, saxophonist Jay Beckenstein released his first solo CD, Eye Contact (Windham Hill), a masterful work marrying his storied fusion background with his straightahead instincts. As leader of the prolific Spyro Gyra, he’s overseen some moments of greatness and periods of unevenness as the band’s sound grew tired in recent years, but, like Eye Contact, In Modern Times is a great album.

The CD is a return to form for Spyro Gyra. It targets the smooth-jazz masses, but Beckenstein has enough chops to slip in mainstream touches, such as on “East River Blue,” where his sax has never sounded better-or jazzier. Beckenstein wrote that song, in addition to the now-obligatory Latin-infused jam, “Florida Straits,” and “Feelin’ Fine,” which has inspired and hooky work by guitarist Julio Fernandez.

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