Thursday, April 12, 2018

Jared Gold's Reemergence

Jazz guitarist Dave Stryker has been a busy guy. Not only have I reviewed two of his albums, Eight Track II and Strykin' Ahead over the last year or so, he's appeared on a lot of other musician's albums such as Steve Slagle's Dedication. Just yesterday I reviewed McClenty Hunter Jr.'s wonderful new album, The Groove Master, and Dave Stryker co-produced that album and played guitar on a song or two. On Jared Gold's new album Reemergence, Stryker also plays a huge role--he plays guitar on all tracks and he produces. Oh yeah, this album is released on the Strikezone Records label, just like Hunter's. No wonder I received both CDs in the same padded envelope.

As with Hunter's album, Reemergence isn't about Stryker, although his influence is felt more here. Gold plays none other than the Hammond B-3 organ, which has become a major theme for contemporary jazz over the last couple of years. (Or perhaps its presence has been felt for much longer--and I'm just starting to notice and I'm totally digging this renaissance for the instrument.) Reemergence is more lively and brash than Hunter's somewhat moody and thoughtful album and is more consistent with the more rambunctious tone in Stryker's albums. I'm talking, of course, about that Paul Schaffer-esque sound where the guitars and the organ drive the melody in an upbeat and lively manner.

That doesn't sound surprising for the organ to take the lead, obviously, but I have heard B3 players sneak around in the background and provide enormous amounts of texture between solos. Gold is up front, taking turns with Stryker and horn player Jeremy Pelt. Drummer Billy Hart comprises the rhythm section along with Gold, who is working sans bassist and is covering the deep notes with the floor pedals. Working without a bass player isn't unique in the world of jazz (or even rock, as Ray Manzarek will tell you), but it does underline the virtuosity of this type of B3 player.

Unlike Hunter, who played patiently for years before stepping out in front, Gold is an old pro when it comes to making records--Reemergence is his eighth solo album, and he's been featured on many, many others. He has extraordinary taste when it comes to his covers--Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "How Long Has This Been Going On," Ornette Coleman's "Blues Connotation," and even Lennon and McCartney's "She's Leaving Home," which has been totally transformed by the original. It took me a while to place it. He takes a cue from Hunter by covering Stevie Wonder's "Looking for Another Pure Love," which feels like a specific suggestion from Stryker. Gold throws in a couple of exciting originals before paying tribute to Stryker by ending the album with "Nomad."

Stryker has become quite a creative force in contemporary jazz, and he's doing it by lifting up his colleagues and friends and showing the world what they can do. Both The Groove Hunter and Reemergence are strong releases, standouts in a still young 2018, and I look forward to more introductions like this from Strikezone Records.

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