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I’ve used this analogy before but it still continues to this day, and that is, every new album that the Jersey Jazz Guitarist Dave Stryker releases feels like an old friend dropping by for an unexpected but most enjoyable visit. Groove Street, the apt title of Stryker’s latest release is just such a “visit”, but this time Dave has brought a friend, the great Tenor player and Yellowjacket Bob Mintzer.
Groove Street offers everything that you have come to expect from a Dave Stryker release: Great tunes, inspirational playing, uplifting charts, smokin’ arrangements and of course, groove! Helping Dave along the way is his working and recording trio featuring the contemporary organ stylings of Jared Gold (man can that cat walk a serious bassline!) alongside the rhythmic fortitude of drummer McClenty Hunter.
From the first notes of Stryker’s title track to the last track on the CD – Mintzer’s “Straight Ahead” – it becomes evident very quickly how well these players work together and why Stryker has had them by his side for more than fifteen years! Definite kudos on his leadership savvy in selecting – and keeping – the right players for the job 🙂
That being said, adding a fourth voice to the mix doesn’t hurt as the unrestrained telepathy between Stryker, Gold and Hunter is equally matched by saxophonist Bob Mintzer who brings his own brand of uninhibited chops and compositional dexterity to the table. Mintzer’s crazily rhythmic “Overlap” and the fittingly titled “Straight Ahead” capture the mood of Groove Street quite nicely with the charts being “tored up” by all concerned.
Organist Jared Gold also gets to shine compositionally as his tune “Soulstice” swings hard, allowing for chorus after chorus of stirring improvisation from Gold, Stryker and Mintzer while Hunter caters to the drive and pulse of this very hip tune. Nicely done all!! 🙂
Stryker’s own “Groove Street”, “Summit” and “Code Blue” receive similar treatment as each member digs deeply into their respective bags of Blues, Soul and Post-Bop Jazz to bring a solid blend of sizzle and dynamics to Stryker’s compelling charts. It’s no wonder that this group of players have stood the test of time as the Dave Stryker Trio. They just seem to dig each other so!
As for the remaining three tunes, there’s a great balance of both individual voices and group playing that mesh wonderfully with the overall vibe that this album has to offer. Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes”, Eddie Harris’ “Cold Duck Time” and the mid-tempo swing of Harry Warren’s standard “The More I See You” are all great vehicles for Stryker’s sense of soulful melodicism and downright burn either in his approach to the melody or in the notes he thoughtfully chooses when navigating through the changes. Make no mistake though, Dave Stryker can rip alongside the best of them as is evident on the title track, “Code Blue”, “Summit” and “Cold Duck Time” to name but a few. It’s no wonder that he keeps showing up as one of the top guitarist voted by Downbeat critics and readers alike. He is indeed the genuine article.
If you’re a fan of great Jazz Guitar or just great music in general, then pick up a copy of Groove Street if for no other reason than to see what all the fuss is about 🙂
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