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October 1997

Dave Stryker
Blue To The Bone
SteepleChase

How does a young guitarist establish himself when the competition is as thick as fleas on a stray dog? Hang tough and keep playing and pumping out albums, exactly as Dave Stryker is doing. For his latest outing, he stays close to his blues roots, although even at its most progressive, his improvisational approach is an organic combination of blues, swing, bebop, and post-bop elements.

Fronting a hefty ensemble that includes trumpet, trombone, bari, tenor and keys, the guitarist assumes a variety of musical poses. On "Blues Revisited," an organ-driven groover that undoubtedly profits from his stint with Brother Jack McDuff, Stryker mainly sticks to tasty but searing urban blues licks. "Messenger" shifts gears to a minor key and focuses on straight-ahead swing, giving him a chance to carve long, gracefully fluent lines. In contrast, there's the title track, with its slow burn, and "Bayou Blues," whose introduction features acoustic Delta-style slide that is effective but hardly on a par with his usual work on hollowbody electric. It all goes to show that in doing his homework and paying his dues, Stryker can play circles around most of the so-called electric blues specialists currently on the scene.

Originally published in October 1997
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