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  • Jonathan Widran

DAVE STRYKER, Eight Track Christmas

Coming home, getting cozy and buoyantly celebrating the holidays, Guitarist Dave Stryker works up the magic again with his bluesy, jazzy, inventively swinging quartet of Stefon Harris (vibes), Jared Gold (organ) and McClenty Hunter (drums).

Straight off their retro masterwork Eight Track III (which spent six weeks at #1 on the JazzWeek Radio Chart), this fun-filled charmer of a set feels like a reward for fans who have supported the group’s Eight Track madness over the course of three hit recordings. Their vibe, intuitive ensemble action and inventive soloing fits the holiday format perfectly, whether they’re mining easy rhythmic retro coolness from traditional gems like “Greensleeves” and “Oh Tannenbaum” or taking a fresh spin on Donny Hathaway and John Lennon.

Stryker’s edgy guitar energy, combined with the dual simmering soul of Harris and Gold, makes “Blue Christmas” the second most compelling track. It’s only second because they’re full of wild surprises on an unexpected swaggering mash-up (complete with sleigh bells) of Young-Holt Unlimited’s “Soulful Strut” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

This year, you can save time on making those holiday party jazz playlists. Stryker and the gang have given you all you need for a jolly good time!

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