Not as well known as he should be, guitar man Dave Stryker's most recent claim to fame has been as part of saxophonist Javon Jackson's new combo. Before that he spent some time in the group of the soulful Stanley Turrentine. Throughout all this work as a sideman, Stryker had also been honing his skills as a leader for the Danish SteepleChase label beginning with 1990's Strike Zone. With All the Way, the guitarist's eighth date for the label, Stryker takes a dramatic step forward that pays off well and will hopefully bring him a wider audience base.
What has marked all of Stryker's previous SteepleChase sides has been his penchant to not repeat formats or ideas. Each session sports a different group of musicians and the material covers new ground. A brazen move, Stryker finally decided to record with just a bassist and drummer, making him the lead player and exposing himself for all the world to hear. The liners even mention how rarely this format has been used in the past, with this writer's memory bringing up only Grant Green's transcendent Green Street as a precursor. That Stryker manages to make this work is as much a credit to him as the other players involved, namely bassist Scott Colley and drummer Bill Stewart. All three men are masters to the point that they're able to execute whatever their creative minds tell their hands, fingers, or feet to do.
Things get underway with "I Got Rhythm" and it's saying a lot to suggest that Stryker and crew speak volumes on what has been a jazz musician's war-horse for umpteen years. Standards, if you haven't guessed it, are the order of the day, with the relaxed Latin groove of "All or Nothing at All" especially sumptuous. Another highlight is yet one more recent take on the meaty and satisfying "A Lazy Afternoon." Throughout, Stryker speaks with a distinctive guitar tone that has a processed sound (i.e. Abercrombie or Metheny) but is very warm and full enough to support this modest grouping. Bassist Colley is solid as ever and Stewart's quirky and yet highly effective drumming marks him as one of the few innovators on the instrument today. Cutting to the chase, these three make great music that will certainly endure long enough to see this one eventually become a classic of the guitar trio format.
Track Listing: I Got Rhythm, All the Way, All or Nothing at All, God Bless the Child, Dearly Beloved, Brother Can You Spare a Dime, A Lazy Afternoon, The Touch of Your Lips (59:00)
Personnel: Dave Stryker- guitar, Scott Colley- bass, Bill Stewart- drums