Dave Stryker/Baker's Circle
Review by Willard Manus

Last year ago I reviewed Dave Stryker’s BLUE SOUL big-band album in this magazine. Now the master guitarist (and composer/arranger) is back with his latest, BAKER’S CIRCLE, which is every bit as captivating as his previous release.

Stryker has teamed up with organist Jared Gold, tenorman Walter Smith III, and drummer McClenty Hunter to deliver a lot of exciting straight-ahead jazz. Stryker’s band might be small but it knows how to make a mighty sound, as evidenced by the hard-driving, fiery playing on “Tough” and “Rush Hour,” two of the tracks on the new CD. The band also excels at slow blues and Latin grooves (on which percussionist Mayra Cassales provides the salsa).

Stryker has written four original tunes for BAKER’S CIRCLE. He has also revisited “Trouble (No. 2), a tender, upbeat number originally recorded by his former boss, Stanley Turrentine. The last of the album’s ten tracks, it is a winner, modern jazz at its finest.

Born in the midwest, Stryker was self-taught on the guitar and has played with Jack McDuff, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith and Freddie Hubbard (in addition to Turrentine). His experience and talent are everywhere in evidence on this release.

(Visit davestryker.com)