Oct 21, 2019
I crossed another name off my “I gotta talk to this guy/girl” list this month when I finally had a chance to have a conversation with guitarist Dave Stryker. I first came to admire Dave’s tasty playing during his tenure with Jack McDuff, and then with Stanley Turrentine during the Eighties. Since then he has carved out a spot for himself as a top player, both as a leader (more than an album a year for the past 30 years) and a sideman with the likes of Craig Handy, Javon Jackson and Don Braden. He has had a lengthy collaboration with saxophonist Steve Slagle, recording as the Stryker/Slagle Band or under Steve’s name for more than 12 releases in total.
But perhaps I’ve never enjoyed him as much as I have since he began the “Eight Track” series of recordings. Beginning in 2014, Stryker has used the Rock, Pop and Soul tunes of the Seventies (hence the allusion to the now defunct 8-track tape) as leaping off points for interpretation and improvisation. His core band for the series has been built around organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter, with a rotating cast of vibes players rounding out the quartet. For his latest releases, Eight Track III and Eight Track Christmas, that chair is held by the always inventive Stefon Harris. Together, the group brings their approach to material as diverse as Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic”, Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Eight Track Christmas is full of inspired and witty takes on classics like “Frosty the Snowman” – here presented as “Soulful Frosty” – and contemporary favorites like Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas War is Over).”
Podcast 705 is my conversation with Dave Stryker, as we discuss the genesis of the “Eight Track” series and the formation of the Eight Track Band. Stryker shares reminisces of his time with McDuff and Turrentine, as well as insight into his sound and approach to playing guitar after forty plus years as a touring musician. Musical selections include "Papa Was a Rolling Stone", Pretzel Logic" and "Joy Inside My Tears" from Eight Track III and "Soulful Frosty" and Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time is Here" from Eight Track Christmas.