Bob Mintzer had an idea. The renowned tenor saxophonist, who serves as principal conductor of Cologne, Germany's world-class WDR Big Band, had made several appearances as guest artist with guitarist Dave Stryker's New York-based organ trio and was so impressed that he thought it would be a good idea to re-orchestrate some of Stryker's music for big band and invite the guitar maestro to return the favor by traveling to Germany and performing as guest artist with the WDR ensemble, an offer that Stryker accepted without pause.
Was Mintzer's idea credible? In a word, yesthe evidence of which abounds on the superb album Blue Soul, wherein Stryker, Mintzer and the WDR merge forces to brighten a trio of Stryker's handsome themes and others by Marvin Gaye ("Trouble Man," "What's Going On"), Prince ("When Doves Cry"), Jimmy Webb ("Wichita Lineman"), Stanley Turrentine ("Stan's Shuffle") and Mintzer's breezy "Aha." Stryker solos adroitly on every track, Mintzer on "Aha," "Stan's Shuffle" and Stryker's prancing "Blues Strut," while the WDR does its part to lend warmth and substance to every number. Stryker's other compositions, the cantering "Came to Believe" and assertive "Shadowboxing," stand out among the album's many pleasurable moments.
Stryker and organist Billy Test share blowing space on Gaye's earnest, blues-based "Trouble Man," which raises the curtain and paves the way for "Aha" and the second offering from Gaye, "What's Going On," a carefree showpiece for Stryker, Test and alto Karolina Strassmayer. A second alto, Johan Horlen, sparkles on "Came to Believe" before Stryker and Mintzer take charge on what is arguably the album's piece de resistance, the bright and irrepressible "Blues Strut." Horlen and drummer Hans Dekker undergird Stryker on the fast-paced "When Doves Cry," trombonist Andy Hunter sparkles on "Wichita Lineman," Dekker and tenor Paul Heller on "Shadowboxing," after which Stryker and Mintzer strike the ideal note on an exemplary codicil, the buoyant "Stan's Shuffle."
Mintzer's idea, as it turns out, was far better than good; it was brilliant. All hands are resolute and standing firm, and Blue Soul is an appetizing entree that should command pride of place on any big-band enthusiast's menu.
Trouble Man; Aha; What’s Going On; Came to Believe; Blues Strut; When Doves Cry; Wichita Lineman; Shadowboxing; Stan’s Shuffle.
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