As We Are

Dave Stryker

Strikezone Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Max Kaplan


Dave Stryker attempts, with exceptional courage, to carve out a new oral (and aural) space in the gold-laden world of guitar-jazz. Hailing from the New York City suburb of West Orange, NJ, Stryker is referred to in the local scene as a “monster” of the guitar by his peers and talent buyers alike. This amicable title is obviously deserved, as Stryker presents an authentically imaginative take on jazz composition with his new album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 As We Were. In cahoots with Stryker’s evident mastery of the guitar is the ever-ethereal presence of a moving string quartet.

Released January 7th, 2022, the album contains almost entirely thought-provoking, jarring originals alongside one recognizable music enthusiast favorite.

The “enthusiast favorite” in reference here is none other than the mysterious Nick Drake’s River Man. An immediately captivating listen, Stryker’s take on this cult-classic is both experimental and satisfying. Beginning with a showcase of musical risk-taking, the string quartet plays an expressionist rumble of dissonance accompanied by a seemingly serialist assortment of earthy percussion. The form of the track begins to take hold with the lead in the upright bass, played tenderly by John Patitucci. Stryker’s guitar holds the head of the tune all the while holding the head of the listener close as he plays through the engrossing melody with mellow yet gripping ease. A demonstration of vulnerability, the song is a highlight of the album. 

A feeling of gentle openness is present throughout the originals of the album. Openness to the ever-changing landscape of the climate of the world, the social climate of our country, or perhaps the never-ceasing landscape of nearby New York City. The string quartet screams a big question mark at the sky whilst resting delicately behind Stryker’s masterful band. For those in the mood for a deeply ponderous and enjoyable affair, As We Are may be your next purchase.

Rating: A

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