Since earning his spurs playing with Jack McDuff during the 1980s, guitarist Dave Stryker has recorded frequently and effectively as a leader in the decades that followed. Keystone is a solid session with tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, drummer Quincy Davis, plus up-and-coming organist Jared Gold. Stryker touches many familiar bases, including a driving, funky setting of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" and a lush ballad setting of "Lady Sings the Blues" (penned by the neglected pianist Herbie Nichols with lyric by Billie Holiday), the latter showcasing Riley's whispering vibrato-laden sax. The standard "Tenderly" has long been a favorite of jazz musicians. This easygoing midtempo rendition features Riley with a breezy background, though it changes to a strutting flavor once Stryker steps into the spotlight. The guitarist has his band stretch out in their performance of "Watch What Happens," giving everyone a taste in a snappy arrangement that never loses steam. The leader's originals also command attention. "Keystone" evolves from a simple riff into a breezy, infectious blues. "The Rose," written for a friend who died far too young, gently sways with tenor and guitar in unison, followed by Stryker's introspective solo. This is yet another outstanding CD in Dave Stryker's vast discography.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden