Jazz Guitar Today caught up with Dave Stryker to discuss his recent #1 album, the inspiration behind the project and much more.
JGT: Let’s talk about what’s giving you your voice. I see your playing a Gibson ES-347 and a Benedetto GA-35. What about these guitars makes them your choice? What amps, strings do you prefer? Effects?
I’ve been playing and recording with my Gibson ES 347 since about 1990. I started out with a Gibson ES 175 as my first jazz guitar, then an L5, and decided I wanted to go for more of my own sound back around 1990 and I liked the punch and sustain of the 347 semi hollow. The pick ups are stock “Dirty Fingers” and are pretty hot and will over drive a small fender so you have to be careful. But I dig the punch and felt it was my sound.
Recently I’ve been also playing my Benedetto GA 35 which is also nice and has a lot of clarity. You really hear every note of the chord. I also have a Benedetto Bravo Deluxe and several Gibson and Guild jazz boxes which I love as well. But the semi hollow seems to be my sound. I use either a Fender Blues DeVille 4×10 in the studio and a Fuchs Jazz Classic on gigs. I also collect Polytone 15’s and still like those!
I use D’Addario Round wound 13-56 w plain 22. On my jazz boxes I sometimes use flat wounds.
I don’t really use effects , unless the music or record date calls for it. I have an Earthquaker dispatcher I’ve been using lately for reverb/delay.
JGT: You have worked a lot in the organ trios. What draws you to that format?
I started out in Omaha early on with a great B3 player named John Maller. When I moved to NYC in 1980 I sat in with Jack McDuff and ended up working with him from 84-85. I also played with Dr. Lonnie Smith and got to play with Jimmy Smith when he would sit in with McDuff. Also I really love the Grant Green Blue Note records with Larry Young and Elvin Jones. So I have that sound and feel in my bones. There is nothing like the sound of organ and guitar in an organ trio. They just fit together nicely and make a great groove.
After I left Jack McDuff, I worked with Stanley Turrentine for 10 years starting in 1996. I also started recording for SteepleChase in around 1990. I stopped playing with organ for many years, as I felt I had done that with the best.
I did a
JGT: You teach at two schools Indiana University and Montclair State University. What is your teaching philosophy? I understand your own musical education came from the masters you played with including Jack McDuff, Stanley Turrentine, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and many others. How do you approach teaching in an academic environment?
JGT: Do you emphasize reading in your curriculum… If I was an incoming Freshman, where would you start? What do you expect from Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors?
Yes, reading (music) is important and we work on that although I expect the students to work on that on their own to be a well-rounded musician. I have different curriculum I use for each
JGT: You have played with many of the ‘jazz greats’. Would you share with us the kinds of things that each of them taught or emphasized with you?
Playing with McDuff and Turrentine you had to have a good feel, play with heart and soul and the blues and always give 100%. Following their solos you had better be dealing or you would be gone. Stanley had amazing time and an instantly identifiable sound you could detect in 2 notes. That was very inspiring to hear night after night. Jack knew lots of standards so I saw it was important to know a lot of tunes and how to play over them. Also seeing their professionalism and how they played for the people wasn’t lost for me.
JGT: Your career has been long and filled with lots of great experiences. You are gaining incredible success with your new record “Eight track III”. As of this writing, 6 weeks at #1 on the jazz charts – Congratulations! Can you talk about your dedication to the process?
Thanks. Yes my latest Eight Track III has been #1 for 4 weeks now. Not sure how to answer that question. I’ve always worked hard I guess. I realized a long time ago that if things were going to happen I would have to try and do it myself. I started writing music at a young age and was able to put out a lot of
JGT: Is there someone living or past that you have not played with that you would love to share the stage with?
Well of course. I would
JGT: Who has been your biggest influences and inspirations?
JGT: What are you listening to these days… who inspired you coming along and who inspires you today?
It was inspiring to see how Pat Metheny, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, and earlier Pat Martino and George Benson and others were able to have a career by playing their asses off and working hard.
There are so many great young guitarists coming along it’s very inspiring. One of my favorites is Kurt Rosenwinkel for his writing and playing. I love his album Caipi and everything he does.
JGT: You have recorded 29 CDs as a leader… how do you choose material between your originals and “covers”?
I just try and mix things up. My last record was called “Strykin’ Ahead” and I did originals and arrangements of some jazz classics. My latest “Eight Track III” I do my arrangements of tunes from the 70s. This has been a great way to get people into the music by playing melodies they recognize, and finding a way to put my stamp on them so we can improvise like they are jazz tunes. Even if people don’t remember the original versions, these tunes have great melodies that people seem to dig.
JGT: Advice to players coming up?
Listen to the music. You can’t play jazz and get a good feel unless you love it and live it. Better to listen to a few things a lot – then a lot of things a little. Keep practicing, playing with others, and don’t get discouraged. Everyone has their own creative voice that is waiting to come
Visit online at davestryker.com