Let me say immediately that I am a big fan of guitarist Dave Stryker and have enjoyed greatly the previous two releases in this series. The formula for volume three is very much as its predecessors. In his lengthy and illustrious career, Stryker has recorded more than twenty-five albums as leader and has also been a featured side man with the likes of saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and organist Jack McDuff. With such a pedigree one can expect great stuff and he does not disappoint.
The personnel on the album is largely as the previous albums with regular cohorts Stephon Harris (vibraphone), returning after being replaced by Steve Nelson for volume two, Jared Gold (organ) McClenty Hunter (drums) but this time with the addition of Mayra Casales (congas and percussion). The repertoire follows the path established previously with some choice popular songs from the leader’s formative years in the 1970’s. This third instalment comes some five years after the first and the concept seems as fresh as ever it did. Stryker maintains that playing these familiar melodies “has been a great way to connect with people and bring more people to the music, whether they remember the songs or are just discovering them.”
This time around, the sense of discovery is greater as the ‘hits’ are slightly lesser known. Having said this, however, Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up’ will be familiar to most and opens the album in great style. This is joyous music. The guitarist is on fine form on this one and in fact the whole group burns.
Music from The Temptations is featured next with ‘Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone’. The tempo is taken down a little but this is no less intense and guitarist and vibraphonist play the lead in unison, something that they are very good at. Steely Dan’s ‘Pretzel Logic’ is a perfect fit for this group. Stevie Wonder’s ‘Too High’ gets an outing next and proves to be a great swinging piece. After this, it’s a wonderful contrast to hear ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ with everyone relaxing into this dreamy ballad. This is a pure delight. Another swinger follows with ‘This Guys In Love With You’.
Roy Ayers’ ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ provides room for Harris to stretch out a little. A helping of Marvin Gaye follows with ‘After The Dance’ and the group return to Stevie Wonder to end the set with ‘Joy Inside My Tears’ which is a bluesy outing where I’m reminded a little of fellow guitarist John Scofield.
We often hear the phrase “feel good music”. In this case the phrase seems to be particularly apt. This is relatively undemanding, fun music and should appeal to a wide audience. The album received its official release on 3rd May. Be sure to place an order for your copy without delay.
For fans of the guitarist, Dave is currently touring the new album through to August with plenty more to come with a quartet album and an album with the WDR Big Band expected in 2020.