Eight Track II, Dave Stryker
's twenty-seventh album as a leader, could be subtitled "Stryker Strikes Again," as it is a pleasing sequel to 2014's well-received Eight Track,
on which the guitarist's working trio and guest vibraphonist Stefon Harris
revisited pop songs from the '70s and rearranged them in a hip new groove. Eight Track II
offers more of the same with the trio (Stryker, organist Jared Gold
, drummer McClenty Hunter
) allied this time with the similarly proficient vibraphonist Steve Nelson
, a longtime member of bassist Dave Holland
's quintet and big band.
Without undervaluing the originals, it's safe to say that these well-known songs by the likes of Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers, Prince, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Zombies, Cream, James Ingram and John Barry have never sounded better than here in the caring and capable hands of Stryker and Co. In fact, they nestle so comfortably into a jazz framework that one could almost suppose they had been written with that in mind. This is especially true of the last four tracks: The Zombies' "Time of the Season," Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," Ingram's "One Hundred Ways" and the back-beat finale, Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." "Season" has an understated Basie-like vibe, "I'm Yours" a Jazz Crusaders feel, "One Hundred Ways" the sort of gentle touch that Johnny Mandel
might lend to a ballad.
McClenty's stalwart timekeeping is a hallmark of the shuffling opener, the Isley Brothers' "Harvest for the World," which leads to Gaye's gossamer "What's Going On" and assertive "Trouble Man." Nelson's mellow vibraphone underscores Barry's enticing theme from the film Midnight Cowboy,
which precedes Prince's "When Doves Cry," Wonder's "Send One Your Love" and the Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You." "Doves" is another well-grooved swinger whose contours show that Prince clearly had jazz awareness coursing through his veins. Stryker's group handles it with care, as it does every number on this admirable session. The leader's six-string guitar glides and caresses, while Nelson's burnished vibes and Gold's virile B3 furnish splendid counterpoint. An encore that's worth applauding.
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.
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.