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  • Writer's pictureJAM

Dave Stryker Trio Prime

CD Review


This Hammond B3 trio of Stryker’s cooks. And this album is one of its delicious one-night-only, specialty item meals. Although the trio will continue, this single-take album captures something special and ephemeral, like steam off an exquisite dish.

Stryker, who makes somewhat regular sojourns to KC, notably with KC (to NYC) drummer Matt Kane, is shining brightly and rising high with this hot new album. “Prime” has recently been named #1 on NACC Top 30 Jazz, #1 on ROOTS & MUSIC REPORT Top 50 Jazz & Contemporary Jazz and is climbing quickly on JAZZ WEEKS Top 50. It is a contemporary hit.

The album begins with a bang with its title track, a burner. Stryker (upfront) shines: he’s busy, but clean; modal and contemporary; soulful, but swift; and it all goes by so quick: the tune, an express. Organist Jared Gold also taps into that hot, frenetic energy, his solo a wonder: so many (well-placed) notes. Drummer McClenty Hunter also delivers a break-neck, busy solo, somewhat in the vein of Max Roach’s iconic work on “Jazz at Massey Hall,” with all those complex rolls across the toms.

In general, the drummer, Hunter, plays as clean as Kane, but busier. This is a balanced, harmonious trio, and Hunter helps keep that scale level. On “Captain Jack,” when Hunter goes momentarily into a blue shuffle during Gold’s organ solo, it gets fiery in a white-hot supernova groove, the tune a nod to Stryker’s early journeyman days with hard bop and soul organist (and “first boss” mentor) Jack McDuff (1926-2001). This is an album of those moments: propulsive moments of synchronicity and swing. Recorded live with no overdubs, this is an album in and of the moment, but (lucky for us) we can play it again and again.

Hunter takes his time on “Dude’s Lounge,” delivering a classic “groove solo,” with careful, danceable repetition, melodic and sparse, with careful and spare accents on the high tom to finish. Measured and masterful, Hunter knows (and shows) when to let loose and when to exercise control.

An album of Stryker originals (except for track #7, “I Should Care”), this session brings new energy, electricity, lightning even. Recorded during the pandemic, but just now coming to light, this album is a treat. As Stryker writes, “In October of 2020 my long-standing trio of organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter was booked to play a concert out of town.

Due to the pandemic, in lieu of traveling we were given the opportunity to tape a show that could be streamed by the venue. Inspired by getting the chance to play together again after eight months in lockdown and knowing we would be in the studio, I was motivated to write an album of new music—my first featuring this trio exclusively. I decided we would record live in the studio with just one take per song and no overdubbing. The connection, interplay and fire of the group was captured on that day and we’re happy to now share with you the music of our trio in its Prime.”

Get it.

—Kevin Rabas

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