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Dave Stryker

An adept jazz guitarist with a strong blues- and soul-influenced sound, Dave Stryker has worked as both a sideman and bandleader for decades. His playing style eschews the sharp, crystalline lines favored by guitar peers; he chooses instead to deliver an intriguingly veiled sound influenced deeply by the organ trios he's played in. He's toured and/or recorded with many musicians, including Jack McDuff, Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Smith, Lonnie Smith, and Freddie Hubbard. 1992's Guitar on Top featured an all-star band that included Mulgrew Miller. The majority of his discography appears on Steeplechase. His celebrated recordings for the label include 1994's Full Moon, 1996's Blue to the Bone, 2004's Shades Beyond, and 2010's Keystone. Later dates appear on his Strikezone label. 2020's Blue Soul featured him with Bob Mintzer arranging and conducting the WDR Big Band. 2021's As We Are included John Pattitucci, Brian Blade, and Julian Shore. 2024's Groove Street featured Stryker's organ trio with Mintzer as a guest soloist. Born in 1957 in Omaha, Nebraska, Stryker began playing guitar at age 10 by listening to records by the Beatles, Cream, and Johnny Winter. Soon, however, he was investigating the music of influential blues artists like Freddie King, as well as more heady jazz improvisers like Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, and Miles Davis. By his teens, he was gigging regularly around Omaha, and in 1978, moved to Los Angeles where he studied for a time with guitarist Billy Rogers, and befriended, and landed a gig with Hammond B-3 organ boss Brother Jack McDuff. After moving to New York City during the '80s, he toured for several years with McDuff's soul-jazz outfit, and in 1986, met Stanley Turrentine. Stryker spent the next decade touring with the saxophonist, during which time he developed significantly, coming into his own as a guitarist respected by his six-string peers and the jazz and blues worlds at large. As a solo artist, Stryker debuted in 1988 with First Strike on an independent label, leading a quartet with drummer Billy Hart, pianist/keyboardist Marc Cohen, saxophonist Steve Slagle, and bassist Ron McLure. In 1991 he signed with SteepleChase and issued Passage on SteepleChase, which also featured Joey Calderazzo, Adam Nussbaum, and others. From there, he delivered a steady stream of well-regarded albums on SteepleChase like Guitar on Top in 1992, 1993's Full Moon, 1994's Nomad, 1996's Blue to the Bone, and 1999's Blue to the Bone II. Stryker paid tribute to Davis with Shades of Miles in 2000 with added personnel including Larry Goldings on Hamond B-3, trumpeter Brian Lynch, and saxophonist Billy Drewes. 2001's Changing Times and 2005's Big City (the first of two albums on MelBay) showcased his eclectic brand of guitar-based blues, swing, New Orleans funk, soul-jazz, and rock. He followed with The Chaser in 2006. During this period, Stryker also appeared as a sideman on albums by Kevin Mahogany, James Williams, and Royce Campbell, and co-led several dates with saxophonist Steve Slagle. In 2010, he paid homage to longtime bandmate, drummer Tony Reedus (who died from a pulmonary embolism in 2008) with the organ-steeped One for Reedus, which also marked his return to SteepleChase. That same year he issued Keystone with drummer Quincy Davis. Another organ quintet session, Blue Strike, followed. In 2014, Stryker launched Strikezone Records, kicking things off with Eight Track featuring vibraphonist Stefon Harris, organist Jared Gold, and drummer McClenty Hunter. Messin' with Mister T followed a year later, with guest spots from Eric Alexander, Jimmy Heath, Chris Potter, and many more. Following the sequel Eight Track II, he released the 2017 quartet session Strykin' Ahead and Eight Track III a year later. He released his first holiday album, Eight Track Christmas, in 2019. Saxophonist, composer, and arranger Bob Mintzer guested with Stryker's organ trios on several occasions in concert. The principal conductor of Cologne, Germany's world-class WDR Big Band, he got the idea that his jazz orchestra would be well served supporting Stryker's organ trio. He worked up new charts for then-recent Stryker tunes, covers of Marvin Gaye, Prince, and Jimmy Webb, and contributed his own "Aha." The set was released as Blue Soul in 2020 on Strikezone and credited to Dave Stryker with Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band -- Mintzer conducted and wrote the charts. Following a European tour, he returned to the studio with his trio and guest saxophonist Walter Smith III for 2021's Baker's Circle. The following year, Stryker changed up his record making and composing formulas for As We Are. He reteamed with Pattitucci, Blade, and Shore and added a string quartet that included violinist Sara Caswell and cellist Marika Hughes. The album garnered almost universal acclaim for its advanced textures, dynamics, and control. Stryker wrote seven of the set's nine tunes, which also included one by Shore and a cover of Nick Drake's "River Man." Stryker and company toured for most of 2023; he returned to the studio late in the year with his Gold and Hunter with Mintzer as a featured co-billed guest. Stryker composed three of the album's nine tracks, Mintzer, two more, and Gold, one. They filled out the set with covers of Harry Warren's standard "The More I See You," Wayne Shorter's jazz classic "Infant Eyes," and Eddie Harris' eternally funky "Cold Duck Time." Titled Groove Street, the album was released in January 2024.
© Thom Jurek & Matt Collar /TiVo


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