Dave Stryker: Strykin’ Ahead

Mark Sullivan By

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After a series of albums organized around a theme—Messin' With Mr. T (Strikezone Records, 2015) was dedicated to his former employer, saxophonist Stanley Turrentine; Eight Track II (Strikezone Records, 2016) revisited classic '70s pop tunes—guitarist Dave Stryker returns to his long-standing practice of presenting a program of originals and jazz standards. The band is the same as the one on last year's Eight Track II: his working trio of organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter, augmented by vibraphonist Steve Nelson.

This is a solid organ trio, informed by Stryker's time as a sideman with soul jazz stalwarts organist Brother Jack McDuff and saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. He knows how the tradition works, and he knows how to make a personal statement within it. The fast bop of Stryker's minor blues "Shadowboxing" opens the set, staking out the stylistic territory. Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" (another minor blues) follows, an unusual ballad treatment in five that takes this familiar tune into unfamiliar places.

"New You" straddles the original/standard line, as it is a new melody written over the chord changes of the frequently played "There Will Never Be Another You" (a venerable bebop practice). Stryker demonstrates further compositional range with the dynamic title tune and the after-hours feel of "Blues Down Deep."

Two standards get lush ballad treatment: Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower" (with a slight Latin groove) and the infrequently played Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley show tune "Who Can I Turn To." The entire band wears their hearts on their sleeves on these, daring to veer close to melodramatic cocktail music territory. The remaining covers are both bebop flag-wavers: Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" and Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee"—which concludes the album, swinging hard and blazing hot.

Track Listing: Shadowboxing; Footprints; New You; Passion Flower ; Strykin' Ahead; Blues Down Deep; Joy Spring; Who Can I Turn To; Donna Lee.

Personnel: Dave Stryker: guitar; Steve Nelson: vibraphone; Jared Gold: organ; McClenty Hunter: drums.

Title: Strykin’ Ahead | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Strikezone

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