On his latest release, Dave Stryker collaborates once again with saxophonist Steve Slagle, and the two are joined by bassist Jay Anderson and Billy Hart on drums, and Joe Lovano joins on tenor sax for a couple cuts.
Stryker’s bop on the opener, “Knew Hold,” swings mightily, especially when he’s soloing. After the guitar and sax state the head, his imaginative solo really lets the tune take flight. And when Slagle solos, Stryker’s comping lends the perfect complement. In fact, throughout the record, listening to his rhythm playing is a treat in and of itself. He’s always in the right place, playing the right chord. With no piano, he and Anderson lay down the bed for Slagle’s solos, and they work beautifully. His chord work also helps drive cuts like “Dear Mr. Hicks” and the cover of Charles Mingus’ “Self-Portrait In Three Colors.”
But it’s his soloing that really grabs your attention. He’s not afraid to let his affection for the blues shine through on songs like “Turning Point” and the aforementioned Mingus tune. And every solo swings; even when he steps a bit outside, the feel never leaves. His feel, chops, and great tone sound like a player totally in control of his instrument. At a young age, Stryker is staking a claim for recognition as one of the great players, and this band is staking a claim as one of the finest jazz groups working.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.