Album Review of
Baker's Circle

Written by Joe Ross
January 27, 2021 - 3:21pm EST
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Since 2013, prolific guitarist Dave Stryker has released a big band album with Bob Mintzer and the WDR Big Band (“Blue Soul”), three volumes in his “Eight Track” series with creative jazz renditions of 70s pop tunes, as well as a holiday album (“Eight Track Christmas”). Stryker and his accomplished bandmates have a knack for solid musicianship in pleasant arrangements of material from a diverse repertoire. The inventive jazz guitarist has found kindred spirits who share his eclectic musical vision, and this album succeeds with both concept and execution. On his previous albums, I’ve been impressed by the expert playing of the two other members in Stryker’s B3 organ group - Jerod Gold (organ) and McClenty Hunter (drums). This album also features tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III who is a fluid, tasteful improviser. Mayra Casales adds congas and percussion to “El Camino,” “Inner City Blues” and the title cut named in tribute to composer/educator David Baker.  Baker’s Circle opens strongly with three Stryker originals, followed by tight, creative renditions of songs from Cole Porter (“Everything I Love”), Jared Gold (“Rush Hour”), Leon Russell (“Superstar”) and others. The set closes with “Trouble (No. 2),” a funky shuffle originally recorded by Stryker’s former boss, tenor saxman Stanley Turrentine, whose bluesy jazz influence has no doubt rubbed off on Stryker’s own purity of tone, soulful imagination and elegant taste.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)