It's a prime period for lists so try this one: Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, Herb Ellis, Kenny Burrell, Tal Farlow and Charlie Byrd. And that's it. Thirty-five years ago, that was the sum total of incontestably first-rate living jazz guitarists. Their population has happily exploded. They're everywhere now -- senior citizens (Ellis, Burrell, and Byrd are still around), veterans of various ages and novices bursting to be heard.
Dave Stryker is no novice. He is, at 41, a grizzled and sometimes brilliant jazz guitar veteran. He left for New York 18 years ago and quickly became a veteran of groups led by all sorts of jazz funkdrippers (Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, Lonnie Smith), aggregations where guitarists who can't swing or communicate in the rough are simply never found. He has recorded first-rate Steeplechase records on his own. He also produced, just recently, a superb, multiguitarist tribute to Grant Green, the blues-slinging model of guitar clarity who died in 1979 before anyone knew there would ever be something called "acid jazz."
Stryker, thankfully, is a veteran of the Buffalo News Jazz at the Albright-Knox Series. What's new this year is that he will be appearing with singer Sue Thompson, not only on the steps of the art gallery at 2 p.m. Sunday but in the more intimate setting of the Calumet Arts Cafe Saturday at 8 p.m. Believe it or not, it's the unofficial beginning of a great jazz season.
-- Jeff Simon