Alto (and sometimes soprano) saxophonist Jay Beckenstein founded the highly successful crossover jazz outfit Spyro Gyra in 1974 and led the group throughout more than a quarter-century tenure. Beckenstein grew up in a musical family — his mother was an opera singer, his father a jazz buff — and began playing the saxophone at age seven, joining school bands and playing both jazz and R&B. After graduating high school, Beckenstein and his friend, keyboardist Jeremy Wall, moved to Buffalo, where Beckenstein studied music at SUNY-Buffalo. Beckenstein and Wall began to headline their own gigs around the city and that collaboration evolved into Spyro Gyra, which went on to a long, prolific, and successful career. In 2000, Beckenstein finally issued his very first solo album, a guest-studded affair titled Eye Contact.