Dave Stryker: Baker's Circle

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Dave Stryker: Baker's Circle
On Baker's Circle, guitarist Dave Stryker revisits a format in which he is quite comfortable: an organ-driven rhythm ensemble whose emphasis is on hard-nosed contemporary swing. There is, however, a refreshing exclamation mark this time around in the person of able-bodied tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, and one more fringe benefit (on three tracks): percussionist Mayra Casales, who adds even more energy to an already vigorous session.

Jared Gold is the soulful organist, with versatile drummer McClenty Hunter making it a quartet most of the way. The album opens with the first three of Stryker's four stalwart compositions before braving Cole Porter's seductive "Everything I Love" and Gold's fast-moving "Rush Hour." Stryker's buoyant "Baker's Circle" is sandwiched between Leon Russell's pensive "Superstar" and Marvin Gaye's gritty "Inner City Blues," which lead to Ivan Lins' amorous "Love Dance" and the shuffling "Trouble (No. 2)," first recorded by Stryker's former boss, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, wherein Smith produces a creditable likeness of Turrentine without ceding his own voice. "Trouble," by the way, whether by design or chance, closely resembles Peggy Lee's chart-buster, "Fever." Stryker's other charts—"Tough," "El Camino," "Dreamsong"—are in keeping with the general tenor and purpose of the album.

It speaks well of Stryker that he has chosen such talented and well-spoken colleagues. While Stryker's solos are efficient and dependable, even he must applaud Gold and Smith for their flair and resourcefulness, and Hunter for his unflagging support. Baker's Circle is truly a team effort, which is what raises it above the ordinary. Stryker's admirable arrangements certainly aid the cause, as does Casales' emphatic percussion. This is music with heart and soul, warmly served by artists whose earnest belief in their handiwork is commendable.

Track Listing

Tough; El Camino; Dreamsong; Everything I Love; Rush Hour; Superstar; Baker’s Circle; Inner City Blues; Love Dance; Trouble (No. 2).


Dave Stryker: guitar; Walter Smith III: saxophone, tenor; Jared Gold: organ, Hammond B3; McClenty Hunter: drums; Mayra Casales: percussion.

Album information

Title: Baker's Circle | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Strikezone Records

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Jazz Mix 12
Kris T Reeder
Horizons Quartet
Horizons Quartet
Gui Duvignau
On Fire
Bévort 3
Joshua Jern Jazz Orchestra
Inhabitable Imagination
Adrián Moncada
Where the Streets Lead
Slowly Rolling Camera
Where the Streets Lead
Slowly Rolling Camera


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.