Dave Stryker ‘Eight Track II’ (Strikezone) 5/5

4PAN1T1PKSTCIf you buy only one straight ahead swinging jazz album this year, it should be this one. In fact, no, be extravagant and buy this and its companion Eight Track, from 2014.
The idea for these two albums is a wonderfully simple one. Eight-track tape, often simply referred to as eight-track, was a magnetic tape recording technology that proved popular in the United States from the mid-1960’s to the late 1970’s when the cassette format took over. With the passage of time, the format is now regarded as virtually obsolete technology.
So, the idea was to record music that was popular during the same era. Thus we get renditions of ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’, ‘Midnight Cowboy’ and ‘What’s Going On’ to name just four. Furthermore, we have the time-honoured guitar, organ, drums trio but augmented by the vibraphone of Steve Nelson.
The set opens with a hard swinging ‘Harvest For The World’ with guitarist Stryker taking the lead. Often, organ or vibraphone join him in unison. Above all this is feel-good music. Each track is a joy. But this is also the popular music of Stryker’s youth and so music from the 1980’s also has a place on the disk.
There is nothing innovative here. Stryker simply concentrates on giving a selection of pop, rock and soul classics a jazz make-over. I’m reminded of the similar approach taken by the British guitarist Jim Mullen with his Organ Trio in the manner in which tempos and rhythms are altered to suit his requirements. Just listen to the glorious shuffle adopted on ‘Sunshine of Your Love’. Stryker certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel, but he does put his own musical stamp on all of the songs. It is a joy to hear these classics in a different setting and there is not a single ‘dud’ amongst them.
In these less than joyous days, this release will be sure to put a smile on your face and provide many hours of listening pleasure.

Alan Musson