viernes, 21 de octubre de 2016


The Multi-Talented Singer Releases New Album
Recorded in France and NYC
Velours Release Date October 21 * Pre-Order Sept 23

Listen On Soundcloud


(New York, NY) September 15, 2016 – Fresh off intensive summer martial arts training in China and ready to rumble, NYC recording artist Valerie Ghent celebrates the release of her highly anticipated new album, Velours, with a full-band performance of renowned French and American musicians at Joe’s Pub at the Public on October 29th.

Hailed by reviewers at her last Joe’s Pub performance as “Valerie Ghent is a True Rockstar at Joe’s Pub” and “Ghent's show was enthralling and pure excitement” (NY Cabaret Today), mark your calendars for this one night only performance & get your tickets today!

On her fourth solo album, Velours, Valerie draws on the full range of her talents forged over 20+ years working with music luminaries Ashford & Simpson, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Debbie Harry & Billy Preston to deliver a breathtaking, spell-binding performance that draws the listener in and never lets go.

Returning to the smooth sound that has won her fans around the globe with her iHeart Radio #1 hit song, Love Enough for a Lifetime, Velours is sure to become Valerie’s most iconic album yet.

In this electrifying mix of R+B, funk, reggae and smooth soul, Ghent fully unleashes her 3 and 1/2 octave vocal range, powerful keyboard chops and her distinctive voice that can hurtle into the stratosphere, whisper in your ear or fall into a low croon at will. These talents, combined with her undeniable authenticity, vitality and joy, her sterling record production, the strength of her songwriting and engineering skills, and her radiant physicality as a performer shaped by years of martial arts training, make Valerie a force to be reckoned with.

Velours is set for release October 21 on iTunes, amazon and CDBaby. Pre-orders begin September 23.

Recorded in the South of France and NYC, the 11 original songs on Velours propel the listener from the transcendent luminosity and opening invocation of Love Divine to the exuberant Get Funkay, from the unstoppable New York City Streets to the heart-stopping ballad, Light in My Life.  The mesmerizing funk groove of title song Velours literally flows into the American-songbook inspired Linger (with accompanying string quartet), while future R+B classic It's Got To Be You plays smooth counterpoint to the reggae-inspired Phased and the gospel blues of30 Days. The deep groove of On & On flows like a river, and Love Will Keep Me Strongbrings us back to the source.

Backed up by a band of internationally acclaimed musicians and vocalists from NYC, France and Senegal, Velours takes the listener on a journey through smooth soul, feel-good R+B, intimate ballads, sun-drenched reggae and pure funk. With A-list musicians playing live on each song, Valerie has conjured up a hot, real, live sound that harkens back to old-school days, recording live with real musicians, delivering killer lead vocals alongside the band. As one fan aptly described, Valerie makes “music you can touch”.

Why the French spelling? “That’s a great question! My mother was born in Paris and I’ve been retracing her steps there. Velours actually began in France – we recorded six songs with my French band, then five songs in New York. The entire album was mixed in the French countryside by Jérôme Buigues, in a studio surrounded by Provençal vineyards. Plus the title song comes from French slang. So it made total sense to me to go with the French spelling.”

How do you pronounce Velours? Leave off the ‘s’ and say "veh-loooor". A French word with the same meaning in English: smooth, velvety, velour. Exactly how you'll feel after listening to Valerie Ghent.

A-list musicians on Velours include Tinkr Barfield (Luther Vandross, Ashford & Simpson) on bass, guitarists Robin Macatangay (Hamilton, Lizz Wright) & Jérôme Buigues (Murray Head, Sir Cliff Richard), percussionist Bashiri Johnson (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston), keyboardist/arranger Rob Mounsey (Madonna, Paul Simon), drummers Kevin Johnson (Curtis Mayfield, Cassandra Wilson), Philippe Jardin (Ray Lema, Gerard Blanc) & Franck Taieb (Daniel Levi), organist/harmonicst Pierre Sibille (Blues’ UP), vocalists Alfa Anderson (Chic, Luther Vandross), Keith Fluitt (Nona Hendryx, Roberta Flack), Dennis Collins (Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder), John James (Toto, Elton John), Ada Dyer (Chaka Kahn, Roberta Flack), cellist Dave Eggar (Coldplay, Beyonce), violinist/violist Katie Kresek (Adele, Alicia Keys), trumpeters Steven Bernstein (Hot Nine, Levon Helm) & Marc Borlet-Hôte (Massak, Keziah Jones), saxophonist Paul Shapiro (Jay-Z, Lou Reed), Nicolas Baudino (Lio, Harry Morse Project), baritone saxophonist Briggan Krauss (Eliot Sharp, Wayne Horvitz), trombonist Dan Levine (Ray Charles) and a special guest performance by Senegalese vocalist Mano Korani Camara.
What’s the martial arts connection? Valerie is longtime student of Chinese martial arts, training which helps fuel the indomitable spirit inherent in her music. Her August 2016 trip to China to train with Master Zhao Da Yuan has solidified her training and will undoubtedly add an extra ‘punch’ to her Joe’s Pub performance. 

WHAT: Valerie Ghent Velours CD release concert

WHEN: Sat. Oct 29, 2016, 7:30pm

WHO: Valerie Ghent (vocals/keys), Bernard Davis (drums), Damon Banks (bass), Jérôme Buigues (guitar), Pierre Sibille (keys/harmonica), Alfa Anderson & Dennis Collins (backing vocals), Gary Fritz (percussion) & special guests

WHERE: Joe’s Pub at the Public, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC 10003 SUBWAY: 6 to Astor Place, R/N to 8th Street


ARTIST WEBSITE:                       YOUTUBE:


Valerie Ghent Bio: Powerhouse recording artist VALERIE GHENT wows audiences with her emotive, evocative voice, piano chops to match, and “soul-stirring, uplifting songs full of vitality and joy.” A native New Yorker with a bluesy, funky piano style and a stunning 3 1/2 octave range, it’s no surprise she has toured with music legends Ashford & Simpson and Debbie Harry and performed with artists as diverse as Dr. Maya AngelouBilly PrestonIggy Popand Defunkt.

Valerie’s Day to Day Dream album launched a #1 hit song on iHeart Radio with Love Enough for a Lifetime, was added nationwide on Sirius XM, national radio in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the BBC and 100+ radio stations across the EU/UK/AU. Her single Supernatural Thing made the Top 40 on NBT Music Radio (Germany). Fans around the world eagerly await her 2016 release, Velours, recorded in France and NYC.

A native New Yorker with four acclaimed CD’s on her own label, Valerie grew up in SoHo and Greenwich Village. Born into a musical family, she began writing songs as a child, recording in her father’s electronic music studio, absorbing her mother’s string quartet rehearsals and falling asleep to the music of Ornette Coleman, who lived and rehearsed in the same SoHo building.

Longtime keyboardist, vocalist and recording engineer for legendary hit singer-songwritersAshford & Simpson, Val worked closely with the duo for over two decades, recording their music as well as collaborations with Angelou, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Sir Cliff Richardand many others. Literally a whirlwind of musical energy, in addition to her own music career Valerie continues to perform and record with Valerie Simpson, is founder of Feel the Music!,an arts education nonprofit and travels regularly to China to further her studies of the internal Chinese martial arts.

 “Ghent sings from the guts. Her contralto rises with the smooth momentum of something out of NASA.”
- Woman About Town

“Ghent, herself, is a vocal phenomenon...she has the glistening, effervescent energy of a top pop/rock star.”
- NY Cabaret Today

Musicians on Velours:
Valerie Ghent - vocals, piano, rhodes, clavinet, Hammond B3 organ, backing vocals
Tinkr Barfield - bass
Kevin Johnson, Philippe Jardin, Franck Taieb - drums
Jérôme Buigues - guitars/backing vocals
Robin Macatangay - guitar
Pierre Sibille - keyboards/harmonica
Bashiri Johnson - percussion
Rob Mounsey - strings
Alfa Anderson, Keith Fluitt, Dennis Collins,
John James, Ada Dyer - backing vocals

Mano “Korani” Camara - guest lead vocal
Dave Eggar - cello
Katie Kresek - violin & viola
Steven Bernstein, Marc Borlet-Hôte - trumpet
Paul Shapiro, Nicolas Baudino – saxophones
Briggan Krauss - baritone sax
Dan Levine - trombone
Produced by Valerie Ghent
Recorded in France & NYC
Mixed by Jérôme Buigues
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound

Following her Joe's Pub performance, Valerie's Velours album release concerts in France kick off December 1 (Marseille). Additional dates to follow.

December 1, 2016
Valerie Ghent Velours Album Release
Espace Musical Hyperion, Marie 4/5
2Bis Avenue du Maréchal Foch, 13004 Marseille, France

National Press Campaign
Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services
Ph: 845-986-1677 / 

jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016



4-time Grammy® Winner
“A musical game-changer, the rare musician who single-handedly
alters the direction of a genre” 
Debuting a new 11-piece band featuring a horn section, backing salsa vocalists and Latin percussion, flamenco singer Diego el Cigala revisits the classic sound of 70s salsa, reinventing some of its hits with his soulful, inimitable flamenco touch. Plus, a special guest appearance by salsa legend Ceferino Cabán on piano.

Diego El Cigala was already one of the most distinctive young voices of New Flamenco when, with Cuban pianist and arranger Bebo Valdés, he ventured into the classic popular Cuban music repertoire and Argentine tango in Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears), an album that became a global hit. Cigala will be presenting his Sony Music Latin CD debut, Indestructible, in which he explores the intersection of flamenco and classic 70s salsa. 


For more information, visit  

viernes, 7 de octubre de 2016

Tomorrow Free Live Jazz with Brian Kastan Group in Exposures Gallery, New CD and other concerts!

Free Live Jazz
Saturday, OCTOBER 8TH @1 pm
Brian Kastan Group
"Roll the Dice on Life"
 featuring Miles Griffith
Brian Kastan- guitar
Miles Griffith-vocals
Steve Rust-Bass  
Peter O'Brien-Drums

@ Exposures Gallery
1357 Kings Hwy, Sugar Loaf, NY 10918

Every 2nd Saturday of the month
Photo Workshop by NICK ZUNGOLI @ 6:30 pm  
Free Live Jazz @ 7:30pm

Saturday, NOVEMBER 12TH @7:30 pm
Saturday, DECEMBER 10TH @ 7:30 pm
Join us for the CD RELEASE PARTY
for Brian’s Newest Album: “Roll the Dice on Life”

It’s fun and it’s free!  Sugar Loaf will be hosting “Second Saturday”, with shops extending hours 5-7:00 PM. Many Sugar Loaf stores will offer an array of refreshments, art exhibitions, jewelry demos, slide shows, sales and more. The shops and galleries in the arts and crafts village of Sugar Loaf are welcoming the community to a monthly “meet and greet” evening. Each Second Saturday of the month will feature different artists and shops sharing their unique talents with the community.
Come join the Sugar Loaf Merchants for creativity, fun, inspiration, art, and more.

\Visit www.SugarLoaf for updated information


Full Of Raw Energy, This Dynamic, Guitar-Driven Double Album Features Vocals By Miles Griffith Jazz-Fusion guitarist, Brian Kastan introduces his newest CD, Roll the Dice on Life. This double album showcases dynamic original compositions by Brian Kastan. The goal of this album is to balance the integrity of composed songs with the fierce energy activated by free improvisation. This album produces high energy jazz-fusion between Brian Kastan’s raw yet playful electric guitar, Miles Griffith’s rich provocative vocals, bassist Steve Rust’s artful sound pallet, and Peter O’Brien’s rhythmic and dynamic play on drums—All of which take the listener on a journey to new, uncharted musical territory.
What is most exciting about this double album is Brian Kastan’s compositional style and improvisational approach to this recording. All of the musicians are constantly pushing, pulling, and weaving the compositions to create music that articulates the feeling of always evolving.
Disc 1 reveals Brian Kastan’s compositional range—from catchy odd metered grooves, a beautiful ballad, continuing on to jazz funk fusion and dark long melodies. With the addition of the powerful song, Rat Attack written by Miles Griffith, this disc explores the ingenuity of Brian Kastan’s goal; To intertwine compositions with improvisation.
Disc 2 focuses on experiencing the spontaneous musical explosion of pure improvisation. The unique creativity revealed by these outstanding musicians shows the genius of the intentional uncontrolled musical environment. This second disc features two political and racially charged songs called Black Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter 2 recognizing the current events happening in the United States in 2016.
With this combination of experience, creativity, and talent, it’s no surprise that this group of players has come together to produce such an engaging, high-energy double album. Roll the Dice on Life showcases their skills—and their musical telepathy—in a way that is ultimately satisfying and exciting for both the players and listeners.
Brian Kastan plays electric/acoustic guitar, electric bass, and composes soundtracks for T.V. and Film.
Played  guitar for  Nonsuch Record Label, Rhys Cantham's "The Grissom Grail", Recorded Live at Lincoln Center in 2010. He is an award winning nature photographer with gallery shows in NYC, Europe and Asia. He holds a Bachelor's degree in both  Jazz Performance and Psychology from Suny New Paltz, a Masters Degree in Music from Brooklyn College,  Brian is a Certified Clinical Hypnotist, and has co-authored a book called “Target Talking” with wife and artist Maria Hartmann Kastan.
Miles Griffith, vocalist/composer, has been a vital member of the New York jazz scene for more than two decades. A very short list of who he’s played with includes NEA Jazz Masters Ron Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hendricks, Max Roach, Toshiko Akioshi, Jimmy Heath and Barry Harris; venerable icons including Jimmy Heath, Sir Roland Hanna, and Reggie
Workman; Cassandra Wilson, Carl Allen, and T.S. Monk; Lisa Sokolov, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and Jay Clayton. Miles Griffith is also a notable band leader whose vocal range and unique musical insight make him a highly recognized composer and singer of his time.
Steve Rust, bassist/composer knows his way around a concert hall, orchestra pit, and recording studio. He’s written for both film and theater, has collaborated with visual artists, and has appeared on dozens of albums. Steve, comfortable in virtually every musical genre, has accompanied everyone from Anthony Braxton to Eileen Fulton, from Jay Unger to Sir James Galway to Hubert Laws, Paul Simon, Natalie Merchant, and Baikida Carroll. Steve is a well known bass player in the style of sound painting.
Peter O’Brien, drummer, has played with artists such as, McCoy Tyner, Dave Holland, Eric Person, Dr.Lonnie Smith.He has toured with legendary musicians including organist Brother Jack McDuff, Edgar Winter, and Roy Buchanan, before joining guitarist John Hall and his hit band Orleans. Besides maintaining a busy schedule appearing at major music festival/clubs across the country, and around the world, he also teaches at Bard College as well as privately, and is an in-demand studio musician.

Brian Kastan "Roll the Dice on Life" featuring Miles Griffith
(Brian Kastan Records 1001) Street Date January 1, 2017

Brian Kastan- guitar, Miles Griffith-vocals, Steve Rust-Bass   Peter O'Brien-Drums

Artist Website:

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martes, 4 de octubre de 2016

Friday October 7 Craig Hartley release new CD "Books on Tape Vol. II" - Concert Oct 8

Through Improvisation, Music Producer Creates Unconventional Mashups

Craig Hartley Trio: Jazz at the Underbrook Concert Series

Concert October 8, Saybrook Underbrook Theater, New Haven

Click Here For The Full Story

Craig Hartley makes unexpected juxtapositions, including Bach with a Miles Davis overlay, and a John Lennon with a Bill Evans backdrop, on his new album, "Books on Tape Vol. II — Standard Edition."

HARTLEY: My new album is "Books On Tape Vol. II - Standard Edition." "Standard Edition" is covering standards - so, like, the American Songbook but also standards like John Lennon and the Beatles and Bach - so a variety of standards from multiple influences and genres.
I kind of go along with this theme of books on tapes. There's a "Books On Tape Vol. I."
There's actually a precursor to that, which is just "Books On Tape." They're sort of, like, stories. You know, these are stories and books - audio books, really - that I'm writing of my life and my experiences expressed through song.
SIMON: Pianist, producer and composer Craig Hartley.

Craig Hartley Books On Tape Vol. II (Self Produced) Standard Edition
Street Date October 7, 2016
Craig Hartley-piano, Carlo De Rosa-bass, Jeremy ‘Bean’ Clemons-drums

Media Contact
Jim Eigo
Jazz Promo Services

miércoles, 28 de septiembre de 2016

Zach Brock & Phil Markowitz Present 3 Live Shows in NY & PA


-Zach Brock and Phil Markowitz-

9/25 - Easton Piano Loft @ The Lafayette Inn, Easton PA
10/6 - Smalls, New York City (with Jay Anderson & Anthony Pinciotti)
10/9 - The Deer Head Inn, Delaware Water Gap, PA

Brockowitz, made up of respected violinist Zach Brock ("[he] marries the bold with the mannered, bringing a stinging brilliance to the fore during the fiery material and dialing it back a few notches in mellower environs."- All About Jazz) and revered pianist Phil Markowitz ("... a sophisticated composer who thinks up puzzles and solves them." -Jazz Times ), will be performing throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and New York City this fall. The duo, which has been referred to as "impeccable" by Downbeat Magazine, will kick things off on Sunday, September 25 in Easton, PA at the Easton Piano Loft @ The Lafayette Inn at 5pm. Tickets and information are available by calling (610) 253-4500 or by visiting

On Thursday, October 6, Brockowitz will team up with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Anthony Pinciotti at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City at 7:30 PM. The duo will then return to Pennsylvania to perform on Sunday, October 9 at the legendary Deer Head Inn at 5pm. Reservations for the Deer Head can be made by calling (570) 424-2000.

Zach Brock and Phil Markowitz have created new repertoire for violin and piano that draws on the traditions of jazz, contemporary classical, and the “roots” music of their respective backgrounds. The first iteration of this new direction appeared on the 2014 release “Perpetuity” and they have been expanding their duo repertoire ever since. While an affinity for American jazz is front­and­center, Brock’s Appalachian roots and Markowitz’s Eastern European ancestry have sown deep threads that run through the new compositions. The audience will hear an unorthodox combination of post­Romantic, serialist, and jazz dialects fused with rhythms from West Africa, South America, and the Balkans.
Heralded as “the pre­eminent improvising violinist of his generation,” Zach Brock is an award-winning jazz violinist and composer whose music draws on the traditions of jazz, classical, world, and popular music. Downbeat Magazine named Zach it’s “Rising Star” Violinist of 2013 and awarded his 2015 release “Serendipity” with four­and­a­half stars. The Chicago Tribune recognized Zach’s recording ”Perpetuity” as one of it’s “top ten jazz recordings of 2014.”
Phil Markowitz, a celebrated veteran of the international jazz scene for more than thirty years, creates music ranging from hard­ cutting chromaticism to the most lyrical post­romantic ballads. His credentials span the traditional to the avant­ garde; from early associations with Chet Baker and Toots Thielemans through his respective twenty and fifteen-­year affiliations with Bob Mintzer and David Liebman. He is currently a professor in the graduate and doctoral divisions at the Manhattan School of Music.
More information can be found at and

lunes, 19 de septiembre de 2016

The path of happiness and jazz brings us this weekend to Aruba: Caribbean Sea Jazz Fest 2016!

Beach, sun, sand, water and terrestrial sports a lot, multiple entertainment, a tasty meal, a picturesque craft a friendly people, definitely tall tourism Add to that a well-organized Festival of Jazz = Aruba.

23 and September 24 of this year is scheduled the realization of the traditional Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival in Oranjestad, Aruba's capital, and the expectation is great for the quality of guest artists.
The organizers of the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival Aruba 2016 have spared in bringing the "Happy Island" a large contingent of interpreters of Latin and Contemporary Jazz.

Andy Narell with Caribbo, as always, will be a show that fits the island of Aruba. Steel pan the sound from the hands of one of his great performers, will dance the audience and filled the whole atmosphere of joy, just like a carnival. The Caribbean is there. More than twenty albums as a leader or co-leader, has recorded Narell, even -Grammy Awards- Caribbean Jazz Project, but the best has gone around the world several times with the original instrument of Trinidad & Tobago featuring acclaimed concerts. Narell also achieved notoriety with the instruction that conveys to children and young people, workshops and classes. The, Narell, is a hero of Latin Jazz and will be able to enjoy his wise and passionate performance of calypso, rumbas, boleros, etc., has just released a new CD "Dis 1. 4 Rae" and will be accompanied in this Etienne event Stadswijk 'ATN', Harvey Wirth and others.

Saxophonist Cesar Lopez is reaching international sitial justifies his talent and work of many years. Accompanied by Emilio Martin (guitar), David Fayo (bass) and Otto Santana (percussion) make up the quartet Havana Ensemble, which after being awarded in his home Cuba is now receiving praise where they occur. Fridays and Saturdays are presented in Jazz Café and Café Miramar, two major jazz clubs located in Havana, but his tour abroad to been extensive in the coming days will be in Harlem-Havana Music Festival in New York and then JMF Jefu Music Fest in South Korea before arriving in Oranjestad. Lopez has recorded 10 CD and Havana Ensemble recently launched its "Live".

The "Lady of Latin Jazz" Izaline Calister, daughter of the Netherlands Antilles, premiered songs from her new album "Rajo di Lus" in which she collaborated with groups Kuerta I Tambu and Buleria. With a domain scene, sympathy and a vocalization that has won him fans in the world Calister continues to be at the heart of all.

Tony Succar will double prsentacion in the Arubiano Festival. On Friday 23 with its Latin Show and Friday with the Tribute Latin to Michael Jackson on the latter: 2016 Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival will rock your world, with a soul-thumping performance of Latin tribute band 'Unity', featuring Latin pop sensation Jon Secada. Born in Peru and raised in Miami, talented multi-instrumentalist and composer Tony Succar HAD Already developed a great ear for infusing spirit into famous classical Latin jazz.

Randal Corsen one of the best pianists in the Dutch Caribbean that been notable sidemen jazz bands taking major stakes in concerts and festivals will be this time with Levi Silvanie. Corsen came to play with the Jazz Venezolano Gerardo Rosales conga player and bandleader.

The Caribbean Combo in an established ensemble of the Scol di Musica Rufo Wever under the Leadership of Carlos Bislip. The concept of esta ensemble is to familiarize the young student with Rhythms of our region "The Caribbean and South America" ​​and using songs of the "Great American Song Book" as vehicles to Achieve ITS goal.

In scenarios Renaissance Festival Plaza will also be local artists and bands and other regions such as Franklin Jazz Orchestra, Bonnarriba & Croeze, Ben Liebrand, Frankie Yanga, Serghio Jansen and the famous Kool & The Gang.

For those who intend to go to this fantastic festival we recommend that already make their reservations, because the avalanche of fans not only come from the American continent but Europe.

The Aruba Tourism offices with his staff always are ready to give diligent information event in Caracas Venezuela, have an excellent team led by Miriam Dabian and Johana Santiago. Friso Veenman has a whole great organization and we as guests will be at the Marriott Hotel ( and we will emcee ... wow !!

The slogan of Aruba is the On Happy Island = "beach days, jazz concert nights".

In this video multi-instrumentalist Tony Succar with singer Michael Stuart and rumba:        

sábado, 17 de septiembre de 2016

Dave Stryker “Eight Track II" September 2, 2016 + Upcoming Live Appearances (today Indianapolis)

Dave Stryker
“Eight Track II"
Dave Stryker –guitar
Steve Nelson - vibraphone
Jared Gold – organ
McClenty Hunter – drums

(Strikezone 8814)
Street Date: September 2, 2016

Listen On Soundcloud
Upcoming Live Appearances

Sat Sept 17 Wes Montgomery Tribute Day IUPUI Campus Center Indianapolis IN
Sun Sept 18 Monterey Jazz Fest
Dave Stryker Quartet w Eric Alexander
Wed Sept 21 Clark University Worchester MA
Dave Stryker and Friends w/ Steve Slagle,
Freddie Hendrix, Carolyn Leonhart 

Fri Sept 23 Hendershots Coffee Athens GA
Dave Stryker Trio
Sat Sept 24 Savannah Jazz Fest -Dave Stryker Trio
Fri Sept 30 Trumpets Montclair NJ -Dave Stryker Quartet
w/ Steve Nelson

Dave Stryker “Eight Track II"
(Strikezone 8814)
Street Date: September 2, 2016
Dave Stryker –guitar,  Steve Nelson-vibraphone, 
Jared Gold – organ, McClenty Hunter – drums

            Guitarist Dave Stryker hit on a ‘groovy’ idea with 2014’s Eight Track, his reimagining of classic pop tunes from the ‘70s with his working trio plus vibes. Their hip renditions of those tunes were eagerly received by audiences and critics alike. Eight Track was the #1 most-played CD on WBGO for the year and reached #3 on JazzWeek Radio chart.  “Styker’s Eight Track is straight up fun,” wrote Dan Bilawsky in All About Jazz while Steve Greenlee declared in Jazz Times: “Forget those Time-Life collectors’ editions sold on late-night infomercials. Buy this.” Downbeat’s Ken Micallef called it ”a stone groove.”
            Stryker put his own personal spin on Eight Track and now continues that successful formula on Eight Track II, his 27th recording as a leader. (His previous CD “Messin’ with Mister T” was #1 on JazzWeek and made many end-of-the-year lists including 4.5 Stars in Downbeat). Returning from Eight Track are Stryker’s longtime right-hand man Jared Gold on B-3 and the exciting McClenty Hunter on drums. Special guest this time out is vibraphonist Steve Nelson, a longtime member of Dave Holland’s quintet and big band who has also played and recorded with such giants as Jackie McLean, Kenny Barron, Johnny Griffin,George  Shearing, and Mulgrew Miller. “Steve is a great cat and a very soulful player,” says Stryker. “I really like what he did on this album.”
              “A lot of people like hearing these tunes that they grew up with,” says the guitarist, who remembers playing some of these ‘70s staples on the 8-track console in his ’69 GMC van with shag carpeting back in his youthful days in Omaha, Nebraska. “It brings people in and they’ll go with you when they hear a tune that they recognize. But the challenge, always, is to find tunes that I can do my thing to, improvise and play as creatively and musically as I would on any jazz standard. And I enjoy the challenge.”

            Four years after moving from Omaha to New York in 1980, Stryker began playing on the organ circuit with bluesy Hammond B-3 organ master Jack McDuff, who had seen such great guitarists as George Benson, Pat Martino, Grant Green and Billy Rogers pass through the ranks of his band. So dealing in that earthy B-3 format on Eight Track and Eight Track II is like returning home for Stryker. But 30 years later, the guitarist’s six-string expression has deepened while his blues-and-bop chops remain razor sharp. 
            “I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to play with masters like McDuff and Stanley Turrentine, guys who played that style and just had it in their blood. There’s nothing like being able to be on the bandstand with guys like that. Now I try to play my own way and stretch things a little bit. It’s still in the pocket but I feel like I’m trying to have my own take on things with this new group.”
             The intrepid quartet kicks off Eight Track II with the Isley Brothers’ anti-war protest song “Harvest for the World,” which they handle as a vibrant shuffle with some hip reharmonizations. Stryker’s warm-toned flow of notes is mirrored by Nelson’s glistening vibes on the catchy head. The guitarist takes his time building an impressive solo, which is brimming with double-timed flurries and blues-soaked lines. 
            Their take on Marvin Gaye’s anthemic “What’s Going On,” title track of his 1971 song cycle addressing drug abuse, poverty and the Vietnam War -- themes that still resonate with relevancy today -- opens with a delicate balladic intro featuring vibes and guitar in unison. As they fall into the familiar theme, rendered here in 6/8, Stryker ‘sings’ the melody through his axe before developing that motif through the course of his probing solo. Nelson explores in introspective fashion on his vibes solo and Gold pushes the envelope on his own dextrous solo as Stryker comps pianistically behind him. The band shifts to a 4/4 groove for the last minute of the piece, giving the listener a little jolt. 
            Another Gaye staple, 1972’s “Trouble Man,” is given an earthy shuffle-swing treatment. Nelson channels his inner Bobby Hutcherson on his envelope-pushing solo here while Stryker remains firmly rooted in a blues ‘n hard bop bag, summoning up some Wes-like octaves along the way.
            A mellow rendition of John Barry’s evocative “Midnight Cowboy,” the Grammy-winning instrumental theme from the 1969 movie of the same name, features nice octaves work and gentle extrapolation by Stryker. Nelson’s luminous solo is underscored by McClenty’s supple brushwork and Gold’s luxurious B-3 cushion. 
            Stretching the rules a bit, Stryker next leaps out of the ‘70s and into the early ‘80s for a killer uptempo swing version of Prince’s 1984 hit, “When Doves Cry,” fueled by McClenty’s rapid-fire ride cymbal work and Gold’s unerring walking basslines. Stryker’s cooking here, while both Nelson and Gold bring some heat of their own with incendiary solos. Hunter adds an exhilarating drum solo to put an exclamation point on this burner.
            A gentle reading of Stevie Wonder’s “Send One Your Love” showcases Stryker’s lyrical side while the quartet digs into The Temptations’ “Can’t Get Next to You” with visceral intensity, spurred on by Hunter’s muscular backbeat. “That’s what I love about McClenty,” says Stryker. “He can swing but he’s got a serious pocket too, and he can slam!” Gold delivers the kind of show-stopping solo here that harkens back to the golden days of the organ lounges. “I played with McDuff, I got to play with Jimmy Smith and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and they were all masters,” says Stryker, “but of the new generation, Jared is my man. His harmony is heavy. His lines are not the typical thing you hear from organ players. I really think he’s special.”
            Their rendition of The Zombie’s “Time of the Season” is handled as a cool shuffle swing number with the guitar-vibes combo upfront and Gold’s hip, syncopated basslines percolating underneath. Stryker lets it rip in his solo here and is followed by Gold and Nelson, who each turn in dazzling solos. The three exchange eights with Hunter at the tag in classic bop fashion.
            A driving rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Seal Delivered” features one of Stryker’s most inspired solos on the record. From that dynamic number, they slide into the alluring James Ingram ballad “One Hundred Ways,” handled with relaxed soulfulness by the crew.  They close with a tough shuffle-swing rendition of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love” that sounds like something Stryker might have played with McDuff up at Dude’s Lounge in Harlem back in the day. Everyone gets a taste on this foot-stomping finale. “I have a long history with that song,” says the guitarist. “I actually played it as a solo guitar piece in my 6th grade talent show!"
            These nostalgic ‘70s anthems are deeply ingrained in Stryker’s consciousness. And the earthy feel of the organ quartet sound is imbedded deep in his bones after 30 years of playing on the scene. He successfully, joyfully combines the two on Eight Track II.

(condensed from the liner notes by Bill Milkowski)

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