LIVE: The Dave Stryker / Bob Mintzer Quartet @ The Falcon, 2/18/18
Review and photographs by J Hunter
Three-day weekends are great – especially the bit where you can do stuff you don’t normally do. For instance, Sunday night concerts are usually out of bounds for me, because they happen on a “school night.” But since we were celebrating past Presidents weekend, I was able to trek down to The Falcon in Marlboro and get blown away by Dave Stryker and Bob Mintzer.
Stryker has become one of my latest habits: After the guitarist knocked me out (with a little help from saxman Eric Alexander) at SPAC during last year’s Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, I went down to NYC on Black Friday Night to see Stryker play with Duduka daFonseca’s Brazilian Trio at Kitano. And while the latter show put Stryker in a different performance element, the fun factor that comes with his own recordings and appearances was in full attendance.
The show at The Falcon had Stryker back with his longtime rhythm section of keyboardist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter, and the addition of Mintzer’s monstrous tenor sax knocked those previous performances right out of the box. The quartet was on the third night of a three-show blast around New York and New Jersey, so it only took a few seconds of their opening blues jam to see the band was as tight as Donald Trump’s wallet. I’ve been a Mintzer devotee since I first heard him with the Yellowjackets, and his work with Skidmore Jazz alum Ryan Cohan was right on point. On this night, though, there was no agenda to follow, no release to promote: Mintzer was just there to BLOW, and blow he did on Stryker’s righteous Curtis Mayfield medley “Pusherman/Superfly” and on “Trouble Man,” my all-time favorite Marvin Gaye track. As well as Alexander did at SPAC, Mintzer did so much better, making the adamantine groove Stryker, Gold and Hunter served up that much more sumptuous.
Stryker and Mintzer have known each other for years, so the guitarist was more than happy to play some of the tunes living in the saxman’s wheelhouse: Mintzer’s Thad Jones tribute “Thaddeus” had reverence for its subject while generating a spiritual glow that wrapped the room in its warmth; and while “Everything Happens To Me” is a chestnut that goes all the way back to Tommy Dorsey, it was anything but a museum piece under Mintzer’s control, and his in-the-clear closing solo was an absolute jaw-dropper.
Stryker brought it back to the groove with “Impressions”, the bustling bopper he played for years with the late tenor icon Stanley Turrentine, and Mintzer jumped on it like a cheetah onto a limping gazelle. Gold and Hunter had been sterling all evening, but this piece – which worked a big chunk of “Wade In The Water” into the mix – really let them stretch their legs and flex their muscles.
It all ended way too quickly, with Stryker calling Harold Vick’s bluesy workout “Our Miss Brooks” for the close. It didn’t take much prompting to get the crowd to clap along, and we put our hands together fervently at the end of the number, even though it led to the one disappointment of the night: When we repeatedly called for an encore, Stryker sheepishly admitted, “That’s all we know!” I, for one, was more than happy to walk away at that point. My new habit was sated, and my three-day weekend was made.