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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Messin' with Mister T




La Place Street

Pieces of Dreams

Don’t Mess with Mister T

In a Sentimental Mood



Salt Song


Side Steppin’

Let it Go

Dave Stryker (guitar); Jared Gold (Hammond B3 Organ): McClenty Hunter (drums); Mayra Casales (percussion) with Houston Person, Mike Lee, Don Braden, Jimmy Heath, Chris Potter, Bob Mintzer, Eric Alexander, Javon Jackson, Steve Slagle, Tivon Pennicott

Recorded December 2014, Trading 8s Studio, Paramus NJ [70:36]

Mister T is, of course, Stanley Turrentine and to celebrate him Dave Stryker has enlisted some hot tenors to join Stryker’s band. Given that he toured with Turrentine for over a decade and recorded with him twice Stryker has a very personal vantage on the repertoire and a canny appreciation of which invited soloist should work on which tune. Ten top-notch tenor players unreservedly committed to the project and the results are consistently engaging. It helps that Stryker has a cooking band, one that records frequently, and absorbs new players and ideas with alacrity.

La Place Street was the location in Pittsburgh where Turrentine was raised and it falls to Houston Person, then a stripling of 80, to salute the locale with vigorous intensity, and drive, supported by the shuffling drum motifs of McLenty Hunter. By contrast Mike Lee’s lyrical exploration of Pieces of Dreams is garlanded by the extra percussive effects of Mayra Casales, and veers from bluesy escapades to more nasal sounds. Don Braden does well by the kind-of title track, Don’t Mess with Mister T, whilst Stryker’s alternation of chordal and single notes adds rich sounds to In A Sentimental Mood which is played by the veteran saxophonist Jimmy Heath, whose 88 years really does make Person seem positively coltish. For this encounter Heath leaves behind his more accustomed soprano to don the tenor, and plays very thoughtfully at a slow tempo.

Impressions, the Coltrane original played by Chris Potter, was long in Turrentine’s repertoire; in fact he recorded it in 1971. There’s some asperity to Potter’s tone as he flies through the number with brilliant clarity of thought and equally brilliant execution, suitable preparation for the crunchy dissonances Jared Gold evokes in Gibraltar where Bob Mintzer is the star guest and where the tightly swinging guitar solo is full of tight vitality. It was cute of Stryker to slip some Jeepers Creepers quotations into Salt Song where Eric Alexander’s tonal astringency brings a welcome edge to proceedings. Side Steppin’ evokes the 1970s groove very nicely and Steve Slagle’s relaxed playing is on the money. The final participant is much touted new tenor gunslinger Tivon Pennicott whose Let it Go – no, not the anthemic Disney hit – is played with requisite blues-drenched authority.

This fine salute is immaculately recorded and sports some fine notes. A winner.

Jonathan Woolf

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