Sequels are a tricky business, often playing to expectations and hewing close to the formula(s) that helped spawn them in the first place. For many, for those very reasons, they're automatically viewed as a slam dunk, aiding in the creation and extension of a franchise entertainment experience for general audiences that went in hard for the original; for critics, however, they're usually a losing bet. Few who wield the pen or keyboard with a critical gaze look kindly upon these vehicles. But maybe, just maybe, the critics need to loosen up a bit. Good fun packaged to meet expectations needn't be vapid or disposable, and guitarist Dave Stryker says as much with Eight Track II.
Stryker visited the popular music of his youth with Eight Track (Strikezone, 2014), bringing '70s pop, rock, and soul classics into the jazz realm with his trio matesorganist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunterand guest vibraphonist Stefon Harris. Not too much has changed for the sequel. He's working with the same trio again, the great Steve Nelson fills the "guest vibraphonist" role to complete the quartet, and a selection of popular songs from the '60s on into the '80s are reworked to fit Stryker's languagea swinging, blues-infused, no bullshit argot that has long served him well. If you're looking for something radical or one step beyond, this isn't it. But if you're looking for more of that good-time spirit, with well-played twists on familiar favorites from the radioand the eight-track playersof yesteryear, you've come to the right place.
While Stryker and company have no problem making some harmonic or melodic nips and tucks here and there, many of the biggest twists on these tunes are connected to the way the grooves have been altered. When a classic like Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" is given a shuffling facelift, or when a gem like The Zombies' "Time Of The Season" adopts streamlined swing as its method of transportation, the character of the music is irrevocably altered. Is that a good thing? Who knows?! The one thing that's for certain is that it's the necessary thing in order for Stryker to make his own statement. If you want to hear Ginger Baker's tribal thump on "Sunshine Of Your Love," if you have a strong desire to get sucked into Prince's signature sound(s) on "When Doves Cry," or if you feel a hankering to gyrate along to Stevie Wonder's infectious recording of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," you can still go back to the source and do that. Stryker's not taking that away from anybody or trying to replace what's already been immortalized. He's just putting his own slant on these tunes that we've all come to know and love. Eight Track II finds Dave Stryker dealing in the art of musical recreation, not blatant re-creation.
Harvest For The World; What's GOing On; Trouble Man; Midnight Cowboy; When Doves Cry; Send One Your Love; I Can't Get Next To You; Time Of The Season; Signed Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours; One Hundred Ways; Sunshine Of Your Love.
Dave Stryker: guitar; Steve Nelson: vibraphone; Jared Gold: organ; McClenty Hunter: drums.
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