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Dave Stryker: Eight Track III

Dan Bilawsky By

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If an idea works, you might as well ride it to its logical conclusion. Following vibraphonist Stefon Harris' advice along those lines in this context, guitarist Dave Stryker completes his Eight Track odyssey with the delivery of the third volume of jazz takes on '70s radio staples. Harris, after having passed the mallets off to fellow vibes heavy Steve Nelson for the second set, returns to the fold to see this trilogy to its end, and percussionist Mayra Casales spices things up by making a few appearances on the date. Otherwise, things remain unchanged. The same sense of enthusiasm still shines through in the music, organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter continue to artfully underpin the arrangements, and Stryker remains as ruggedly stylish and direct as ever.

Shuffling and swinging their way through Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up," the core four go at it right from the start. Then the straight-time hip of "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" settles on the soul, the slick intelligence behind Steely Dan meets with Stryker's earthy resonance for "Pretzel Logic, a spirited trip through Stevie Wonder's "Too High" lives up to its name, and a beautiful "We've Only Just Begun" serves as an understated breather of a centerpiece.

Whether observing that opening portion of the program, addressing what follows, including a lightly funky "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" highlight, or looking back at the first two Eight Track dates, one thing remains true and constant: the strength of the song itself remains paramount. Stryker doesn't bend the originals into unrecognizable shapes or use the art of the cover as a means for intellectual exercise. He plays the songs in relatively straightforward manners, leaves space for solos, and lets the magic take shape on its own. And that, in a nutshell, is his formula for success when dealing with this terrain.

While this may mark the end of Stryker's Eight Track projects, it's doubtful that (m)any would complain if a fourth happened to find its way to the marketplace. As fun dates go, these are hard to beat.

Track Listing: Move On Up; Papa Was A Rollin' Stone; Pretzel Logic; Too High; We've Only Just Begun; This Guy's In Love With You; Everybody Loves The Sunshine; After The Dance; Joy Inside My Tears.

Personnel: Dave Stryker: guitar; Stefon Harris: vibraphone; Jared Gold: organ; McClenty Hunter: drums; Mayra Casales: congas & percussion (2, 3, 6-9).

Title: Eight Track III | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Strikezone Records

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