Dave Stryker' fifteenth CD for Steeplechase obviously makes him one of producer Nils Winther's favorite musicians. For this 2003 session, the veteran guitarist is joined by pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Andy McKee, and drummer Billy Hart, producing a post-bop oriented session that has a number of surprises. Stryker's reworking of George Gershwin's "Strike Up the Band" reharmonizes the standard and adds quite a different perspective. He disguises the introduction to Sonny Rollins' "Airegin" with a tense vamp, with Davis shining in its up-tempo setting. Cole Porter's "I Love You" is another favorite of jazz musicians; the pianist's easygoing, slightly funky scoring of it gives it a fresh sound. Stryker penned three originals, including "What Is This?," a deliberately obvious reworking of the chord changes to "What Is This Thing Called Love." His swaggering "Blues Strut" and the demanding modal piece "Saints and Sinners" also produce inspired performances. Davis wrote the lyrical waltz "The Message," a low-key but infectious tune, while McKee opens his subtle"Peace Song" alone, with the band gradually making its entrance. Highly recommended!
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden