What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Dave Stryker

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature jazz and blues guitarist Dave Stryker.

Online Bio: Whether you've heard guitarist Dave Stryker fronting his own group (with sixteen CD's as a leader to date), or as a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and more recently Kevin Mahogany, you know why Gary Giddins in the Village Voice calls him “one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.” He was voted one of the Top Ten Guitarists in the 2001 Critics and Readers poll of Downbeat Magazine. His approach combining the jazz burn to a soulful blues feeling is communicating to new fans wherever he plays.

Dave Stryker (3/30/57) grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and moved to New York City in 1980. After establishing himself in the local music scene, he joined organist Jack McDuff's group for two years 1984-85. When McDuff wasn't on the road (literally traveling by van all over the country) they worked a steady four-night a week gig at Dude's Lounge in Harlem. His first break, this turned out to be an invaluable experience, paying his dues night after night with the soulful jazz organist.

It was at Dude's Lounge that Stryker met tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, who would occasionally sit in. After leaving McDuff, Turrentine asked Stryker to join his quintet. From 1986-1995 he played with the legendary saxophonist at all the major festivals, concert halls, and clubs throughout the world. He is featured on two Turrentine CD's (Stanley recorded Stryker's tune “Sidesteppin”). With Turrentine,

Stryker was able to play with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard. The ten years playing alongside the tenor legend helped Stryker realize the importance of having his own sound.

Stryker recorded his first CD, First Strike (featuring Billy Hart) in 1988. Guitar on Top (featuring Mulgrew Miller and Victor Lewis) reached #13 on the Gavin Radio Chart and received 4 1/2 stars in Downbeat magazine. There have been articles in Downbeat, Guitar Player, Jazz Times, Swing Journal, and Jazz Life on Dave, and he has been awarded three jazz grants from The National Endowment For The Arts.

In 1990 Dave began his association with SteepleChase Music. He has released 14 CDs on the label including:

* Blue to the Bone III – 2001 The third installment of Dave's 8-piece band with James Williams added on piano. Dedicated to Stryker's mentor's Stanley Turrentine “Stan's Shuffle” and Jack McDuff “For Jack and T”.

* Changing Times – 1999 Documents Dave's working band The Dave Stryker/Steve slagle Quartet with Bill Moring on bass, Tim Horner on drums, and special guest Manolo Badrena on percussion. Original music that explores some different time signatures.

* Shades of Miles – 1998 Stryker's themes inspired by Mile's late 60's/early 70's music performed by Billy Hart, Manolo Badrena,Terry Burns, Marc Copland, Larry Goldings, Steve Slagle, Billy Drewes, and Brian Lynch.

* Blue to the Bone II – 1998 The follow up to his first BTTB project is a continues featuring the bluesier side of Dave's playing and writing with the same line-up except for Adam Nussbaum, Steve Slagle and Clark Gayton on board this time.

* All The Way- 1997 – features his take on eight standards with drum-great Bill Stewart and bassist Scott Colley.

* Big Room 1996 – is an adventuresome all original quartet date with Billy Hart, Rich Perry and Ed Howard.

* Blue to the Bone – 1996 – spawned his popular eight-piece group; conceived as a vehicle to feature the blues side of Dave's playing backed by a four-piece horn section. The band is Brian Lynch, Rich Perry, Conrad Herwig, Bob Parsons (also co-arranger), Bruce Barth, Jay Anderson, and Billy Drummond.

* The Greeting – 1995 – a horn-less quintet date featuring a working group of Bruce Barth, Tony Reedus and Scott Colley with the percussion of Daniel Sadownick.

* Nomad – 1994 – put his guitar in front of the kicking Bill Warfield Big Band expanding his original compositions with guests Randy Brecker and Steve Slagle.

* Stardust – 1994 – took him back to his organ trio roots with Hammond B3 star Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Adam Nussbaum. Mostly standards.

* Full Moon – 1993 – was a freer quartet date which included some of Ornette Coleman's music. It featured Steve Slagle, Jay Anderson, and Jeff Hirshfield, who have played together for years.

* Blue Degrees – 1992 – A mostly original organ-quartet date with Larry Goldings, Rick Margitza and Jeff Hirshfield.

* Passage – 1991 – A working quintet with Steve Slagle, Joey Calderazzo, Jay Anderson and Adam Nussbaum.

* Strikezone – 1990 – Stryker's debut on SteepleChase with Slagle, Marc Copland, Ron McClure and Ronnie Burrage.

Early on Stryker realized that as much as he loved playing standards and the jazz repertoire he had to have something of his own to give to the music. He feels that his writing combined with his playing is what shapes his musical expression. He has recorded and published over fifty of his own compositions. Eighteen of those compositions (from the first five SteepleChase CD's) are compiled in the book : The Music of Dave Stryker (SteepleChase Music) which can be ordered on this website. Some of the other artists who have recorded his music are: Stanley Turrentine, Kevin Mahogany, Victor Lewis, and Steve Slagle.

Dave continues to perform with his working unit The Dave Stryker/Steve Slagle Quartet as well as his other projuects: The Blue to the Bone Band, The Shades Project (w/ Lenny White), and his latest group “Trio Mundo”.

He is currently a featured member of vocalist Kevin Mahogany's working band having written and arranged music for Kevin's latest Telarc release Pride and Joy and Another Time, Another Place on Warner Bros. Recent gigs have included Europe, Japan, Brazil, Poland and Carnegie Hall. He also works with Blue Note saxophonist Javon Jackson and pianist Eliane Elias. He has appeared on over twenty CD's as a sideman.

As a producer, Stryker compiled the CD The Guitar Artistry of Billy Rogers which is the only existing record of the brilliant jazz playing of the late underground legend who was his friend, former teacher and member of the Crusaders. He also co-produced with partner Jim Eigo “A Tribute to Grant Green” on Evidence Music and is currently involved producing some new releases. His latest project is called “Trio Mundo” (Khaeon World Music) featuring Manolo Badrena and Andy McKee.

Dave's Homepage with soundclips


Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc now endorses Peerless Guitars and has the website Jazz Guitar Zone to help promote Peerless jazz guitars in the US. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps — great for jazz (and anything else!)

1 thought on “What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Dave Stryker”

  1. Re: by Doc Dosco This week we feature jazz and blues... What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Dave Stryker
    Phil Saruk

    I would like to purchase your Jazz Impov Vol 2; I played bthrough it and I liked it a lot. One of my students: Michael Ridner from Huntsville,Alabama attended the guitar workshop in Louisville and spoke very highly of you. Please let me know if I can purchase the book through you or where. I bought vol one through Mel Bay Publications. I am enjoying it very much; I have a little different concept of fretting or fingering the notes and sometimes I play throught your examples similar to you. I sight read them and if I’m not careful I get pinned into a position; usually when I play through the exercise the first or second time. Anyways, thatnk you for your time, Sincerely, Phil Saruk
    402 Pickwick st. Sheffield, Alabama 35660. [email protected]. Cell Phone 256-627-4100; Residence : 256-381-9482. Thank You Very much.

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