This chapter in guitarist Dave Stryker's musical book, which already includes some 25 titles as a leader or co-leader in settings ranging from trios and quartets to his Blue to the Bone band, Trio Mundo and the exciting Stryker/Slagle Band, is a neoclassic organ trio outing providing ample opportunity for his agile playing with its warm, resonant tone. He's accompanied by organist Jared Gold, whose sound exhibits the influences of Larry Young's harmonic chording and Jimmy Smith's virile attack, along with drummer Tony Reedus, whose percussive embellishments and integral, exhilarating work help to create this group's fat sound.
Stryker's musical interests and ability are such that each project affords listeners an often unique and exciting listening experience. The guitarist worked in the bands of organist Brother Jack McDuff and, later, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine between the mid-'80s and mid-'90s, honing his chops in the presence of the masters. He also developed that most revered of musical traitsa distinctive sound on his instrument. His style embraces influences of Delta blues, Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino while being individualistic, mature and showing an eagerness to evolve.
The Chaser is anything but predictable, featuring five Stryker originals including a couple straight-ahead burnersthe title track as well as "The Great Divide," which has a stunning change in tempo from Stryker's fiery exploration of the melody to a smoldering walk as Gold begins his solo. "Brighter Days" is an effervescent swinger, "Katmandu" a bluesy samba; "Mode J.W.," a remembrance of late pianist James Williams, boils with intensity and passion.
There's a fine, up-tempo waltz treatment of "I Wish You Love," the arrangement in contrast to a more sedate, if equally delicious, reading of this tune on Grant Green's Street of Dreams album from the '60s. "Close to You" is done as a delicately crafted ballad, while the standard "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" is captivating in its use of shifting meters. The album closes in a soulful visit with Harold Vick's good and greasy line "Our Miss Brooks," which surely had Stryker thinking of his time with McDuff. It's in the bag.
If you're not already hip to Stryker, The Chaser is a grand introduction to his superior playing and should whet your appetite for other elements in his discography. If you're already a fan, the album should speak for itself.
Personnel: Dave Stryker: guitar; Jared Gold: organ; Tony Reedus: drums.