January/February 1997

Dave Stryker Quintet
The Greeting
SteepleChase

Easy-rider Dave Stryker has assembled a nice band and smooth set for his seventh lead album (since 1990) on his steadfast home label (ninth overall). Far from resting on such heartening stability, Stryker tweaks the date in fresh ways. On his sole horn-free date since Blue Degrees (1994), he varies the tonal palette on every single track: the inclusion of percussion colors by Dan Sadownick is just an obvious starting point. Stryker takes to the front line easily. Though he leads with two near-classics-Wayne Shorter's "Armageddon" and McCoy Tyner's title tune-the date grows and expands on six originals showing more texture than melodic substance. He plays his afro-blues "Serengeti" in sixths with pianist Bruce Barth, a compadre from Stanley Turrentine's band; both solo at length and well before a catching duo between congas and drummer Tony Reedus. "Spirit In The Wind" explores folksy-samba elements, as acoustic guitar opens in unison with bassist Scott Colley, and moves into lovely solos. "One For Will," an intriguing calypso, uses cowbell, loping bass, and rimshots; Barth moves quasi-montuno piano octaves into his solo, and Stryker stokes it up with solid blues. A smooth tribute to Pat Martino, titled with his surname "Azzara," goes up with cool octaves, alert solos, and brisk fours with Reedus. A finale tributing Sonny Sharrock goes from brooding bass and arpeggio strings to a soaring Hispanic 6/8 and inspired ensemble. Good work! - Fred Bouchard

Originally published in January/February 1997
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