Dave Stryker: Striking an Authentic Chord
The raucous and joyful "Capetown" is set up around a Highlife rhythm established by Stryker before moving into a simple change around which the sprightly and singable melody is played in unison and harmony by Stryker and Slagle. With a fairly static vamp, harmonically speaking, the soloists are left more room to work their own way through a modal approach. Stryker's accompaniment of Slagle's solo is intuitive as he pulls harmonies, seemingly out of the air, that complement Slagle perfectly. Once the solo spot becomes his, Stryker takes the simple vamp and works a variety of harmonic alterations out of it, also using a pitch shifter to create a more vertical sound.
Changing Times demonstrates another, more specifically jazz, side to Stryker's playing, and with the strong percussion work of Badrena and drummer Tim Horner, the excitement level is high indeed.
Shades Beyond continues the concept behind '00's Shades of Miles , which was to explore the same space as Miles' seminal recordings In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Whereas Shades of Miles was a denser effort, with horn section, two keyboard players, drums and percussion, Shades Beyond reflects the smaller group context that Stryker used to play the music live and, with this album, take the concept a step further.
Tracks like Slagle's "Easy Does It" and pianist/organist David Berkman's "Petals" continue to mine the post In a Silent Way vibe, with the Terry Burns' electric bass holding down an ostinato - although he doesn't stay completely committed to it - and drummer Lenny White creating an hypnotic rhythm over which Berkman shades with dark colours. Tunes like Stryker's "Persimmon," with its simple changes, may be less harmonically static, but the group treats the material as an extension of Miles' concept, albeit in a way that sounds completely rooted in the 21st century.
While the quintet is, by definition, less dense than Miles' work from the period under examination, the vibe is clear. It's always fascinating to consider how a concept can alter the way a tune is played. "Persimmon," for example, and Slagle's more swinging "Two Twenty" could easily be straight-ahead post bop tunes, but by establishing the late-'60s Miles context the group approaches the material in a more open way that has an ambience all its own.
Berkman's Fender Rhodes work is key to establishing the overall texture, but everyone clearly understands where the music is coming from while maintaining a modernity that makes the session a forward-thinking homage rather than blatant imitation. And Stryker keeps things all his own with his warm, slightly gritty sound that owes nothing to John McLaughlin's sound or harmonic approach. In fact, by the time you get to this third Stryker disk, his own musical personality becomes totally clear. While his roots are many, he has blended these elements into something distinctly him.
Now in his late forties, Stryker has spent the past thirteen years creating a body of work that is as broad as his influences and as wide as his musical tastes will take him. Yet whether he is playing straightforward blues, modern modal post bop or the more electric explorations of Miles' space, he has a distinctive voice on his instrument that connects all the projects together, lending them an unmistakable cohesiveness. By examining his own discography, it becomes clear that Trio Mundo Rides Again is nothing more than another chapter in a long journey that Stryker is making to approach a wealth of styles and interpret them in his own unique fashion.
Blue to the Bone
SteepleChase Productions SCCD 31400 (Recorded 03/96)
Personnel: Dave Stryker (guitar), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Conrad Herwig (trombone), Rich Perry (tenor saxophone), Bob Parsons (baritone saxophone), Bruce Barth (piano, organ), Jay Anderson (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)
Track Listing: Blues Revisited; Messenger; Blue to the Bone; Swamp Thing; Bayou Blues; Tchoupitoulas St.; Muddy Waters; One for Mogie
SteepleChase Productions SCCD 31510 (recorded 12/99)
Personnel: Dave Stryker (guitar), Steve Slagle (alto and soprano saxophones), Bill Moring (bass), Tim Horner (drums), Manolo Badrena (percussion)
Track Listing: Changing Times; Big Mouth; Different Worlds; Capetown; Julia; Circular Scene; Invocation; Rhythm Method
SteepleChase Productions SCCD 31559 (recorded 08/01)
Personnel: Dave Stryker (guitar), Steve Slagle (soprano and alto saxophones, alto clarinet), David Berkman (organ, fender rhodes), Terry Burns (bass), Lenny White (drums)
Track Listing: Easy Does It; Petals; Persimmon; Two Twenty; Magenta; Shades Beyond; Apparition; Maze
November 2000 Interview