Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

10

Dave Stryker: Soulful Sound

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
They hear your feel before they hear your notes. So if you have a good feel, and it hits people in their heart, then you're doing the right thing. —Dave Stryker
Guitarist Dave Stryker carries a soulful sound that took root in his early years in Nebraska, where he played the blues before finding his way into the world of Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino. More was added to the recipe when, after moving to New York City, he earned his way into the real-time universe of gritty veterans like Jack McDuff and Stanley Turrentine, musicians who played directly to people with heart, feeling and purpose. His tenure with Turrentine lasted over a decade in total.

"I started in '1986," he says. "I was there '86 to '96 and then I left for a little while. Then I came back with him the last year he was alive."

By then it was 2000. "He started to call me and I would do some New York gigs. Then I did a little tour of the west coast. We came back and were doing the Blue Note. Everything was going great. He sounded great." The saxophonist bid goodnight to his cohorts. The next afternoon in the hotel he suffered a heart attack. "We all showed up at the gig Sunday night and there was no Stanley."

Stryker's fond experiences with the renowned saxman were the basis of his recent tribute CD, Messin' With Mr. T, a hard-hitting gem that calls on some of the best saxophonists in the business to interpret music associated with Turrentine—a different one on each of the ten tunes. The music is joyous and ballsy, successfully conjuring up Turrentine's vibe. It includes "'La Place Street," the last song Turrentine played on his last gig and also the name of the street he grew up on in Pittsburgh. The CD rose to the top of the jazz charts in 2015.

If that weren't enough—and it never is for Stryker, who marked his 26th recording as a leader with Mr. T—the guitarist revisited his longstanding association with saxophonist Steve Slagle this year with the new CD Routes, done with an expanded band that has three horns melding with the quartet. That recording, by necessary intent, explores different territory, moving from steady swing, to more aggressive and angular territory ("Nothin' Wrong With It"), to serene ("Great Plains") to funky groove ("Lickety Split Lounge"). All of that music is penned by Slagle or Stryker, save for one Charles Mingus tune ("Self-Portrait in Three Colors").

To have diverse projects is not new for Stryker, whose chops can handle anything from soul to more outlandish music inspired by the likes of John Coltrane. Not only does he have the physical means to dazzle his instrument, but he has a big, warm sound that further entices the listener. He plays with feeling, not just dexterity.

"I think that's what we like about jazz is the improvisation of it and composing on the spot," says Stryker. "The longer you do it and the better you get, you're making up new melodies, not just rehashing licks. To play the music, you have to learn the language, but once you learn the language, you get past that to the next level, where you're making melodies. It's exciting."

"Also having a good feel so when people hear you" is a key, he says. "The first thing they hear is your sound and they hear your feel before they hear your notes. So if you have a good feel, and it hits people in their heart, then you're doing the right thing. That's what music should do: make you feel good."

That's what Stryker accomplishes whether with his organ trio, his partnership with Slagle or appearing with others. It's a lesson that was re-enforced working with the likes of McDuff and Turrentine. Both influences pop up. Even his association with Slagle has its beginning in McDuff's band. The CD title Routes, has the double meaning of describing the routes the two players have taken and how those paths have crossed, and also the roots of their music, which have similarities.

Stryker went to New York in 1980 and his first big-time job was with the organist. "McDuff had told me if I ever get to New York, to look him up. So I went up there and auditioned with him. Steve Slagle was in the band, so there's a lot of paths crossing there. When I was with McDuff, we played a steady gig up in Harlem at a place called Dude's Lounge. A lot of guys would come in there. Jimmy Smith and George Benson, Lou Donaldson and Stanley Turrentine. That's where I first met Stanley. When his guitarist couldn't make it, I went. Stanley offered me the gig."

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Aquarius

Aquarius

Dave Stryker
8 Track

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
In Pictures
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Jazz Near Me
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Strykin’ Ahead

Strykin’ Ahead

Strikezone
2017

buy
Routes

Routes

Strikezone Records
2016

buy
Eight Track II

Eight Track II

Strikezone Records
2016

buy
Messin' with Mister T

Messin' with Mister T

Strikezone Records
2015

buy
Messin’ with Mister T

Messin’ with Mister...

Strikezone Records
2015

buy
Eight Track

Eight Track

Strikezone Records
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read Michael League: Snarky Puppy's Jazz-Schooled, Grassroots Visionary Interviews
Michael League: Snarky Puppy's Jazz-Schooled,...
by Mike Jacobs
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Conor Murray & Micheal Murray: Putting Falcarragh On The Jazz Map Interviews
Conor Murray & Micheal Murray: Putting Falcarragh On...
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 29, 2018
Read Pete McCann: Mild-Mannered Superhero Guitarist Interviews
Pete McCann: Mild-Mannered Superhero Guitarist
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 28, 2018
Read Kris Funn: Bass Player, Story Teller Interviews
Kris Funn: Bass Player, Story Teller
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: November 27, 2018
Read Phillip Johnston: Back From Down Under Interviews
Phillip Johnston: Back From Down Under
by Ken Dryden
Published: November 27, 2018
Read Anwar Robinson: From American Idol To United Palace Interviews
Anwar Robinson: From American Idol To United Palace
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: November 25, 2018
Read "Yacine Boularès: Coltrane by way of Descartes" Interviews Yacine Boularès: Coltrane by way of Descartes
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: January 26, 2018
Read "Thandi Ntuli: On Exile" Interviews Thandi Ntuli: On Exile
by Seton Hawkins
Published: June 28, 2018
Read "Abby Lee: Born to Sing" Interviews Abby Lee: Born to Sing
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Ron Korb: Pan-Global Flutist" Interviews Ron Korb: Pan-Global Flutist
by Rob Caldwell
Published: June 27, 2018
Read "Phillip Johnston: Back From Down Under" Interviews Phillip Johnston: Back From Down Under
by Ken Dryden
Published: November 27, 2018