THE SMOOTH JAZZ RIDE
Sam Stryke--Brunch

Pianist/keyboardist Sam Stryke has sailed the musical seas of several genres over the past couple of decades. Having worked with new age, adult contemporary, and holiday music, he now tries on a variety of smooth jazz for size (pop jazz)and finds that it fits quite well here on Brunch, a bright collection of popping tracks that bear great resemblance to the David Benoit/Bruce Hornsby/Vince Guarldi styles. A feel-good vibe that Stryke believes sets the perfect mood for weekend mornings. I quite agree.

From the bouncy opening track, “Sunny Side Up,” Stryke pivots to a laid-back slow-to-mid tempo piece called “Me Time,” which showcases his skill on the 88s in a bluesy kind of way.  Back with the bounce and high-step, he tosses in “Java Jive,” that just keeps the groove motoring right along.  There’s nothing like a funky acoustic piano in the lead role, also evidenced on this cut and elsewhere.  Stepping back into the slow, soulful and bluesy mood, “Green Eggs” can create the imagery of one taking his/her lover’s hand and strolling along in a deep yet silent conversation between eyes. Yep, it’s that effective.

Stryke likes to alternate tempos often and quickly. One track takes off, the next settles back. “Up-N-Atm” is another mover that finds the pianist tickling the ivories in that honky tonk funk kinda way. “Glow” is not as laid-back as, say, “Me Time,” providing a bit more punch, if you will, but it is still more subdued than the jazzy up-tempo track that follows it, called “Double Shot.”  This one is groove jazz alive if you ever wanted to term anything as groove jazz.  It all just demonstrates how well Stryke knows the inner workings of a mood and a groove.

So it goes with this project. All in all, it is a very fine, very polished demonstration of how to work a piano for its worth. Sam Stryke should be a name one will surely remember after having Brunch with him. --  Ronald Jackson