As an alumnus of stints with organist Jack McDuff and tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, guitarist Dave Stryker knows how to please hardcore jazz heads as well as more pop-oriented fans. His 2014 release, Eight Track, featuring pop tunes from the 1970s, is a case in point. That album’s follow-up, Eight Track II, mines some of the same musical genres, with tunes such as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and “Trouble Man,” Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” the Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You,” Stevie Wonder’s “Send One Your Love” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” and Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Stryker and company—organist Jared Gold, drummer McClenty Hunter and vibraphonist Steve Nelson—apply their jazz touch to these tunes throughout: a revised chord progression here and there, melodic alteration, tempo changes, revamped rhythmic patterns and more.
Stryker and Nelson frequently play in unison until one or the other breaks away to solo. Gold often adds a funky element to the ensemble sound. His blistering solo on “When Doves Cry” and his percolating work on the Zombies’ “Time of the Season” are fine examples. Nelson’s soloing sometimes adds a reflective mood to the performances, as on “What’s Going On.” It’s obvious that he’s not seeking out the fastest-mallets award but rather the most alluring sound. Hunter, the groovemaster, puts the beat in your soul throughout. If you’re familiar with the source materials, you’ll find that Stryker, Gold, Nelson and Hunter have revised them effectively without losing what made these tunes great to begin with.