Review of Spectrum’s album, "Play the Game"
Richmond Music Journal
Spectrum is a professional group in every sense of the word, a combination of some of the best, most experienced and well-educated musicians in the area. These could play anything, any style they chose, and to make a living, they’ve got a play list that’s going to work for the crowd that can afford to put them on the stage. What they make for one gig could keep other bands in black T-shirts for years.
That said, it seems reasonable that this music would draw from that tradition. From the opening bars of "Step By Step", it’s evident that the influence of Tower of Power and Earth, Wind & Fire have been felt. But it would be a surprise if, with a four-piece horn section and a dance repertoire, Spectrum didn’t mine that mother lode.
Gary Shaver, who wrote and arranged all the songs, knows his craft and bring to it a good singing voice, great sax playing, and a welcomed sense of humor. The other lead singer, Carolyn Crone, doesn’t sing with the abandon and energy that might really sell these songs, but seems to be enjoying herself on the duet "I Want You To Love Me." The high point is the title track "Play the Game." The horns, piano and background harmonies work together as smooth as a baby’s butt. It has a nice little backbeat feel that’s sure to have everyone unconsciously bobbing their head in time.
It’s a fair bet anyone who watches MTV isn’t going to connect with this, but if you’re the kind of free spirit that has an open mind, there’s a lot that’s different and novel here to enjoy.
Review of Spectrum’s album, "Play the Game"
Now, for some R&B with more of a Casino show band flair, you'd want to check into Spectrum's "Play the Game." The horns are a cross between Earth, Wind and Fire and Chicago, and the bass has that pulsating "Disco" feel, the drums are straight-ahead solid, there's a hint of harder rock in the guitar, and the keys fill in the gaps.
Carolyn's vocal beauty and control will knock you out and Gary sounds like a true performer. The only area I can see where this project might receive some criticism is the songs are positive, upbeat and from a simpler decade than the '90's, and today's music critics might not be able to relate to such a good vibe.
To contact the band, write email@example.com, or call the Spectrum Hotline: (804)342-0662.
Ocean City MD
July 2, 1993 page 21
"Sounds of a musical spectrum fill Jamboree"
by Rob Rector
When Gary Shaver started his band Spectrum with two other members in 1985, he had one heck of an undertaking. "We tried to find great pop music where horns were represented," Shaver said. Aside from Chicago and Tower of Power, horns were not a predominant instrument in mainstream pop. So it was up to the band to Spectrum-ize songs and fit them into its musical bill. "The guys would write their own horn lines into a song," said Dave Chapman, trumpet, who joined the band four years ago. "We put our stamp on it and hope it compliments the music."
Something must be right. The band’s popularity with Ocean City crowds has prompted a return visit for four years at the resort town’s Fourth of July Jamboree at Northside Park. "We love the big crowd at Ocean City," Shaver said. "They’re always ready for entertainment."
The bands sprawling music library covers everything from Lynard Skynard to Frank Sinatra to Big Band to Motown. "We don’t sink our teeth into early ‘50’s rock and roll or harder metal rock," Shaver said. "And we don’t play Achy Breaky Heart."
Through the years, the band has accumulated members like moths to a light, currently boasting 10 musicians, four of which bring the brass and woodwinds to the shows. "The sound adds authenticity to our show," Chapman said. "It’s a really good blend." "The brass is very powerful and direct," Shaver added. "And the two saxes slip in the middle and tend to flesh out the sound." The band not only transforms the songs with its instrumental blend, but grabs an occasional obscure tune that is seldom heard from other bands. "We like being able to do songs the audience has never heard other bands play," Shaver said, citing Buddy Miles classics and tunes with a "Texas swing" as examples. "But they’re all still toe-tapping" he added.
The band’s ten members are all graduates of Virginia Commonwealth University, known for its jazz music department. "Our polish and variety are the main draws of the band," Shaver said. "We are not a show band. We let the music stand on its own two feet."