On this tribute to his former employer Stanley Turrentine, guitarist/bandleader Dave Stryker recruits his trio with Hammond B-3 organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter, augmented here by guest percussionist Mayra Casales. Messin' with Mister T also features a series of contemporary tenor players taking on some of the late saxophonist's classic recordings.
The set opens with a swinging "La Place Street," featuring a nice exchange between Stryker and Houston Person, who breaks into an extended solo with stellar backing from the trio. Don Braden takes over the title track, switching between bluesier and more straight-ahead approaches without missing a beat. The chemistry between Stryker and Steve Slagle, undeniable the result of many years together in the Stryker/Slagle band, is evident on their funky treatment of "Side Steppin'"; clearly these two musicians know exactly how to respond to one another. Considering there is no bassist on the record, Gold delivers particularly amazing bass lines here.
One of the album's best moments is Milton Nascimento's "Salt Song," which begins with a flurry of drums and percussion before seamlessly transitioning into an easygoing bossa novaexcept for the bridge, with its more intricate changes. The soloist here is Eric Alexander and his creativity is brilliant, playing with great passion on a song that is not exactly a commonly covered member of the jazz songbook.
But Messin' With Mister T is not just a tribute; rather, it suggests how Turrentine's music might have sounded today. With clear respect to the master, Stryker clearly has the abilityalong with the help of some other great maestros in their own rightto revive this music for a new audience.
La Place Street; Pieces of Dreams; Don’t Mess with Mister T; In a Sentimental Mood; Impressions; Gibraltar; Salt Song; Sugar; Side Steppin’; Let It Go.
Dave Stryker: guitar; Jared Gold: Hammond B3 organ; McLenty Hunter: drums; Mayra Casales: percussion (2, 6-10). Special guests – Houston Person: tenor sax (1); Mike Lee: tenor sax (2); Don Braden: tenor sax (3); Jimmy Heath: tenor sax (4); Chris Potter: tenor sax (5); Bob Mintzer: tenor sax (6); Eric Alexander: tenor sax (7); Javon Jackson: tenor sax (8); Steve Slagle: tenor sax (9); Tivon Pennicott: tenor sax (10).
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