Dave Stryker: Eight Track


With nearly a record a year as leader since his late 1980s recording debut, not to mention the dozens of recorded sideman appearances, veteran guitarist Dave Stryker has amassed a substantial discography of considerable depth and quality, leading varied small group combinations from trio to sextet, and up to big band on occasion. He, together with is new working trio, a setup more often than not fronted by the keyboardist – Hammond B3 organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter – has, with the considerable added talents of vibraphonist Stefon Harris, released “Eight Track”, a swinging, soulful, stylish, confident, groove-laden and exuberant new album, a brilliantly executed exercise in pleasing both one’s ear and one’s memory while fully retaining its jazz credentials.

Out on Strikezone Records, “Eight Track” is the utterly appropriate title of a session inspired by the guitarist’s personal reminiscences of a listening activity anyone seasoned enough to recall the 1970s will remember with both fondness and frustration, that of listening to music on 8-track tapes. The ten transmuted but fully recognizable tracks, all cover songs recorded 1967-74, echo down the years as some of the original artist’s and writer’s finest, best remembered and most-often listened to and revisited songs. A brief drum swell leads into the pace-setting opener, The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around”, taken at a consistent, moderately fast tempo, and ending with a brief organ swell that leads nicely into the subtly interwoven medium-tempo Curtis Mayfield songs “Pusherman/Superfly”. The Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius” is the album’s hardest swinging effort; rocketing out of the gate it proceeds without letup and features a blistering effort by the guitarist and a brief drum turn by Mr. Hunter.

Interspersed with these and the other superbly realized R&B; material are four well known non-R&B; pop songs, including “Wichita Lineman”, Pink Floyd’s “Money” and what may be the biggest guilty listening pleasure on the album, Bread’s “Make It With You”.

Mr. Stryker plays with fabulous phrasing, varied attack and a clean, cushioned and plush tone, expertly interacting with his band mates in utterly intuitive fashion. The solo turns by all involved are concise, tasty and riveting. To its great credit, the album sounds like it could’ve been recorded decades ago, but this is no amber-coated fossil; it’s a living, breathing effort played with incredible panache, feel and know-how by a band, save Mr. Stryker, too young to have experienced this music firsthand.