Guitarist Dave Stryker returns with his 28th album as a leader with the same supporting cast as last year's "Eight-Track II": his working organ trio of Jared Gold on organ and McClenty Hunter on drums augmented with vibraphone player Steve Nelson, the same configuration as on that recording. Unlike that recording's focus on pop hits of decades past, the present album features his originals along with re-harmonizations of several jazz standards.
His time with Jack McDuff and Stanley Turrentine certain are evident on the opening 14 bar blues, "Shadowboxing," with some strong organ in addition to guitar. It is followed by a nice "Footprints," that starts off in an understated fashion with intriguing chordal variations on Wayne Shorter's classic number as the performs starts simmering with a building intensity. Nelson provides a different tonal voice with his shimmering playing here followed by some more impressive guitar with Gold's organ smoldering as the performance reaches its end. Another original follows, the swinging "New You," a contrafact of the oft-played "There Will Never Be Another You," which was inspired by the Blue Note recordings of Larry Young, Grant Green and Elvin Jones.
There is an exceptionally lovely rendition of Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower," followed by the lively title track and then another excellent, atmospheric late night blues, "Blues Down Deep," with Stryker's technique, restraint, taste and imagination at the forefront. A bright rendition of Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring," with some lovely unison playing from Stryker and Nelson along with some of Stryker's most scintillating fretwork is followed by a enchanting "Who Can I Turn To," with some peppery guitar, and surging organ from Gold.
The album closes with a spirited "Donna Lee," with fast fluid fretwork along with Nelson's nimble mallets. I haven't mentioned Hunter, but his crisp, imaginative stick work adds rhythmic accents as well as drive these marvelous performances forward. With his latest, Dave Stryker continues to impress with his imaginatively conceived and superbly played recordings.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the September-October 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 374). Here is Dave Stryker performing at Small's in New York City.