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Dave Stryker: Messin' with Mister T

Jack Bowers By

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On Messin' with Mister T, guitarist Dave Stryker could have enlisted only his organ trio to salute friend, mentor and musical hero Stanley Turrentine; instead, he chose to step back and let other voices do most of the talking. The encomiums are thus provided by ten of the world's most accomplished tenor saxophonists, making this one of the most unique and impressive testimonials ever recorded. Turrentine would no doubt have been pleased to see such heavyweights as Houston Person, Jimmy Heath, Don Braden, Chris Potter, Bob Mintzer, Eric Alexander and others lining up to pay homage to his artistry, and even more pleased that every one of them, in Stryker's words, "came immediately on board" when asked to take part in the enterprise.

Not only did Stryker's guests agree enthusiastically to appear on the album, each of them, doubtless in deference to Turrentine, brought his "A" game, an observation that is borne out on every number. No one is phoning anything in, from Person—who opens the session with Turrentine's bluesy "La Place Street"—to young lion Tivon Pennicott who seals it with another engaging Turrentine composition, "Let It Go." The highlights are many, among them Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood," played with warmth and dexterity by eighty-eight-year-old Jimmy Heath, and Potter's emphatic reading of John Coltrane's "Impressions." Alexander is eloquent on the powerful "Salt Song," as are Braden on Marvin Gaye's "Don't Mess with Mister T," Mintzer on Freddie Hubbard's funky "Gibraltar," Javon Jackson on Turrentine's jazz evergreen "Sugar," Mike Lee on the enchanting "Pieces of Dreams" and Steve Slagle on Stryker's frisky "Sidesteppin,'" introduced by Turrentine in 1995 on the album T Time.

As for the organ trio, it is there to offer unflagging support, amplified on most numbers by tasteful solos from Stryker and organist Jared Gold. Drummer McClenty Hunter, a diligent and sturdy timekeeper, is aided and abetted on half a dozen tracks by percussionist Mayra Casales. Together, they make sure that each guest is loose and comfortable. The result is an album whose artistry and passion mirror that of its honoree, the sublime Stanley Turrentine. Kudos to everyone involved, and especially to Stryker for bringing them together.

Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: 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).

Title: Messin' with Mister T | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Strikezone Records

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