The idea of electric guitar Jazz with strings is hardly unheard of. When I was pretty new to Jazz listening I happily stumbled upon Wes Montgomery's classic album Tequila
, which you may remember had tracks with a string backdrop arranged by Claus Ogerman. It was the antithesis of the pop tendency at the time to add strings as "sweetener." Not that it was not sweet exactly but the strings had plenty of contentful things to play behind Wes. I loved it. Still do.
Well when I started to listen to today's album I was happily reminded of that Wes gem without feeling that I was hearing a clone. Far from it. The album is guitarist Dave Stryker's new one As We Are (Strikezone Records 8822). It features Stryker with his Quartet of Julian Shore on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums, plus a string quartet. Julian Shore put together the arrangements, Stryker originals for the most part.
The compositions are weighty enough to stay with you, Dave's guitar revels in the way it can and does blend with the string sonarity, at the same time as his note choices are exceptionally nice to hear. There is a soulful countenance, lyrical sensibilities and harmonic movement of a satisfyingly sophisticated sort. The Shore scoring of the string quartet is rather brilliant I must say.
Stryker wanted the sort of strings-band interaction where nothing was superficial. And he gets that, very happily.
It is a damned fine album in every way. And if you are like me it will feel hearty and substantial, real art, a pleasure from beginning to end. Get this one!