On Dave Stryker’s latest, three is the magic number.
Dave Stryker Trio – Prime – [TrackList follows] – Strikezone 8823, 57:52 [2/3/23] ****:
(Dave Stryker – guitar, producer; Jared Gold – organ; McClenty Hunter – drums)
Guitarist Dave Stryker’s 2023 project takes things to a prime number. Three. The aptly titled, nearly hour-long Prime is Stryker’s first recording with his current working trio. Stryker is joined by Hammond B3 organist Jared Gold (a member of Stryker’s previous trio; credits include Benny Golson, Bob Mintzer, and others) and drummer McClenty Hunter (who has also recorded with Stryker; he’s also played with Lou Donaldson, Cedar Walton, Curtis Fuller and more).
Prime is available as a compact disc, digital download, or vinyl LP. This review refers to the two-fold, four-panel foldout CD package.
Prime has a sense of spontaneous sonic sorcery due to a one-take approach per tune with no overdubbing. What was heard in the studio is exactly what listeners experience.
Prime has nine soulful tracks and is a mix of new originals, one cover, and two revisions of slightly older Stryker tunes. The music shifts from upbeat to gentler vibes. On the slower side there is a picturesque rendition of the standard “I Should Care,” which has been done by Frank Sinatra, Bud Powell, Nat Adderley, and many others.
Stryker redoes two cuts from his 2022 release, As We Are, which featured a quartet alongside a string section. A stripped-down “Hope” has a funkier tone since organ replaces acoustic piano and there is no overt strings sweetening; Gold offers an upfront feel while also adding bass notes which were originally provided in 2022 by a bass player. On the trio translation of “As We Were” there is also a distinctly different perspective. The 2022 strings introduction is swapped out for an organ prologue and Stryker’s filigreed soloing remains an important portion of this gradually evolving composition.
In his earlier days, Stryker worked with organist Jack McDuff, and so Stryker penned two tributes for his former boss which are included on Prime. “Captain Jack”—which has nothing to do with the Billy Joel song of the same name—is an optimistic outing replete with fast paced interaction between Stryker, Gold, and Hunter. These guys really know how to communicate. The other McDuff homage is the lengthy, bluesy “Dude’s Lounge,” a showcase for some fine Stryker fretboard finesse, Gold’s combustive keyboard creativity, and Hunter’s swinging drum set. The album’s third dedicatory piece is “Mac,” written by Stryker specifically for McClenty. It’s also a number with several memorable moments for all three musicians.
Dave Stryker – Prime:
As We Were
I Should Care
Dave Stryker’s Music Available Through Bandcamp: