May 24, 2024

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CD review: Dave Stryker – Prime – 2023: Video, CD cover

Dave Stryker’s standout guitar/organ/drums trio with Jared Gold (organ) and McClenty Hunter (drums) has been going on for a good while now, but having the chance to play with them after months of lockdown, the guitarist leader was inspired to write a whole new set of fresh tunes for the band and quickly get them into the studio to knock them out. In short order, Prime was born, and it’s yet another valuable entry in Stryker’s deep catalog.

“Prime” (video above) is a blues-based workout whereby Stryker just cooks and cooks. Using his fingers where other plectrists might utilize a pick accounts for the sweetly softened tone of each note. Gold, truly one of the most under-appreciated jazz organists out there, shows so much ability on “Lockdown” in harmonizing with Stryker, cutting loose on a solo free of cliches and making all the right bass note choices.

“Captain Jack” is, as one might guess, is a salute to Stryker’s boss early in his career, “Captain” Jack McDuff. Here, McClenty’s feisty shuffle keeps the groove smoldering. Dave Stryker also gives a tip of the hat to his current drummer with “Mac,” and McClenty thrives with his forceful beat on an open snare leading the way.

Stryker’s composing abilities transcend the organ trio settings he often cast them into; “Hope” and “As We Were” originally appeared on his 2022 quartet + strings affair As We Are. On the former tune, his small combo sensitively coaxes out its folk core while on the latter is a ballad that is treated with the same great grace and sensitivity it received for its chamber jazz treatment.

“I Should Care” is the only cover here, a page from the Great American Songbook given a coolly modern re-casting adorned with supple solos from Gold and Stryker. Breezy Brazilian vibes are undertaken with expertise for “Deep,” while Stryker goes it alone for the first two minutes of “Dude’s Lounge” and then the group launches into a blues shuffle with all three playing on fire.

The Dave Stryker Trio is a modern take on the venerable organ jazz trio but there’s one thing about Prime that’s very old school: these tracks were cut in single takes, live in the studio with no overdubs. This is what happens when massive musicianship meets well-honed chemistry.

Dave Stryker - Prime - Amazon.com Music

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