Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stryker Jazz: Dave Stryker - "Eight Track"

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“One of the most joyous feels around.”
- Pat Metheny

“One of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.”
- The Village Voice

“Stryker did long service in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith groups, and while he prefers a slightly blurred tone over the crisp lines of many modern guitarists, he has a knack for cutting through any ensemble.”
- Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

Guitarist Dave Stryker is a swinger.

Or, as my New York Jazz buddies would say: “Stryka is a swinga.”

A high compliment for a Jazz musician who was born in Omaha, a place that my geocentric Jazz friends in The Empire State would probably locate as being - “just west of New York.”

After playing with some local rock bands in The Cornhusker State [aka Nebraska] Dave moved to Los Angeles [aka “EL Lay”].

He eventually settled in New York where he “paid his dues” with Lonnie Liston Smith, Stanley Turrentine and Jack McDuff and these gigs along with a stint Hammond B-3 organist Jimmy Smith gained him entrance into the Funky Blues-Drenched Jazz Guitar Pickers Association [FBDJGPA - sadly, not enough vowels to make a fun anagram out of this one].

Along the way, he’s managed to make over a dozen CD’s for Nils Winther’s Steeplechase label which was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1972 and is still going strong today under Nils’ suzerainty.

I first heard Dave in the early 1990’s on his Stardust Steeplechase CD along with Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond B-# organ and drummer Adam Nussbaum.

As I watched his annual output of music accumulate in my collection I soon realized that Dave Stryker is one smart dude.

What he has essentially done over the past 25 is to throw an almost continuous recording party to which he has, at one time or another, invited some of the best Jazz musicians in New York.

Here’s a partial list: trumpeters Freddie Hendrix and Brian Lynch; trombonist Vince Gardner; alto saxophonist Steve Slagle and Billy Drewes; tenor sax players Rick Margitza Stephen Riley; baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan; keyboardists Mulgrew Miller, Joey Calderazzo, Larry Goldings, Xavier Davis, Bruce Barth and David Berkman; bassists Robert Hurst, Scott Colley, Jay Anderson, Andy McKee, Terry Burns and Ron McClure; drummers Victor Lewis, Billy Hart, Quincy Davis, Bill Stewart, Lenny White, Billy Drummond,Steve Williams, Ronnie Burrage and Jeff Hirshfield.


Its as though Dave has taken over the “House Party” format that Hammond B-3 organist used for a series of Blue Note LP’s.

And he’s at it again, this time with a new release on his StrikeZone label [#8809] entitled Eight Track on which he’s joined by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, Jared Gold on organ and McClenty Hunter on drums.

Here are the track listings, track times and composers:

1. I'll Be Around (Bell/Hurtt) 4:55
2. Pusherman / Superfly (Mayfield) 7:16
3. Wichita Lineman (Webb) (6:04
4. Aquarius (Rado/Ragni/MacDermott) 7:18
5. Never My Love (Addrisi/Addrisi) 6:10
6. Superwoman (Wonder) 6:06
7. Never Can Say Goodbye (Davis) 5:50
8. Make It With You (Gates) 5:06
9. Money (Waters) 6:50
10. That's The Way Of The World (White, Stepney, White) 4:52

Dave makes these comments and observations about his latest recording in his insert notes to the disc:

" In 1975, like many people, I had an 8 Track player in my van, where I remember sneaking out of class to listen to music. I started getting into jazz and a friend, (who actually had an 8 track recorder) made some tapes for me. I remember one with Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew on the same tape and another with Pat Martino, George Benson and Carlos Santana! Now 8 Tracks didn't last that long, (always skipping to another song, and having to stick a matchbook in there to get them to play...), but to me they represented the 70's - a time when there was a lot of great pop music going on as well as jazz."

"I enjoy occasionally throwing a pop tune from those times into my sets and recordings, probably because when I was coming up and learning how to play jazz the older guys would play those tunes in their sets as well. It was a way of connecting with people. I used to joke on the bandstand "that last tune is from my next record- Dave Stryker plays the Hits of the 8 Track".... Well, be careful what you say because it might happen!"

Whatever the format, Dave Stryker’s music is always a happy listening experience. He knows what he’s doing when he fronts a band and he seems to bring out the best in the other musicians on the date.

I never come away from listening to one of Dave’s recordings disappointed.

Pianist Keith Jarrett once said: “The music is always there. The musician needs to find it.” Dave Stryker always finds the heart and soul of the music. He plays who he is; his Jazz is unadorned and sincere. Above all, Stryker Jazz  is about the essence of the music - it swings.

Order information about Eight Track can be found on, and from online retailers. Jim Eigo is handling promotional services and you can reach him via

Here’s a video that features Dave, Stefon, Jared and McClenty on the opening track I’ll Be Around which was made famous by the 1970s vocal group The Spinners.

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