The jazz-fusion scene is littered with technically proficient musicians. Yet, even in that celebrated crowd, the otherworldly skills of guitarist Daryl Stuermer stand out.
His latest solo album, Go, comes on the heels of a 2003 concert album celebrating the 25th anniversary of Sweetbottom, the jazz-fusion band Stuermer founded in 1973. That reunion drove Stuermer to make Go an extension of his early work.
“In a way, I?m going back to where I started,? says Stuermer. ?When I did my first solo record, (1987?s) Stepping Out, it was a much more electric album than my records after that. Most of my records are very eclectic. They have very electric songs on them, but yet they?ll have nylon-string or acoustic sounding songs ? some laid back, some mid-tempo, some heavy. So, my records have always had all of that on them, but what I decided to do was really focus in on what I think ? actually, what I think at least now ? I do well. I think my more if you want to call it progressive-rock ? some would even call it rock-fusion, more heavy on rock ? I think that?s what I do best.?
Stuermer has been building up to this.
“I paved the way with this album called Rewired: The Electric Collection. It?s kind of saying, ‘Here is where I?m going to be going,?? says Stuermer. “I?m taking all my prior electric stuff and putting it all on that record. Just so you know, this is the direction I?m going. And Go, the title just comes from moments like saying, ‘Ready, set, go,? because every song is pretty much right out of the gate, just ‘bam,? as opposed to subtle stuff.?
There?s an urgency to Stuermer?s fretboard fireworks on Go that?s palpable.
“Every song I wanted to have a certain amount of energy, even if it was a ballad,? explains Stuermer. “I wanted it to have kind of an undercurrent of simmering underneath that, and I think I wanted to stretch out a little bit more as a guitar player.?
Where exactly Stuermer has yet to go musically is anybody?s guess. His resume is impressive, having played guitar with fusion violinist, and Frank Zappa cohort, Jean-Luc Ponty (1975-78) and Genesis (1978-1992).
A Milwaukee, Wis., native, Stuermer cut his teeth on Elvis and the ?60s British Invasion rock of the Yardbirds, the Animals, and the Rolling Stones, while learning his craft from listening to guitar greats like Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and George Benson, and fusion six-string masters like John McLaughlin of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Larry Coryell.
With Sweetbottom, Stuermer?s playing caught the ear of keyboardist George Duke, who recommended Stuermer to Ponty. At the tender age of 22, Stuermer joined Ponty?s own band and his work can be heard on Ponty?s Aurora (1975), Imaginary Voyage (1976) and Enigmatic Ocean (1977) albums.
The Ponty internship prepared him for the shot of a lifetime, a chance to tour with mega-superstars Genesis in 1978. Two live albums, 1983?s Three Sides Live and 1992?s The Way We Walk (Vols. 1 and 2), feature Stuermer?s musicianship and Stuermer is slated to go out with Genesis on the group?s 2007 reunion tour.
But it?s Stuermer?s partnership with Phil Collins that?s earned him the most mainstream acclaim. His angry, searing guitar solo on “In the Air Tonight? is legendary.
Over the years, Stuermer has written six songs with Collins and appeared on Collins? albums Hello, I Must Be Going, No Jacket Required, But Seriously, Dance into the Light and A Hot Night in Paris.
As for Go, out now on Inside/Out Records, Stuermer, for the first time, served as his own engineer, doing all the mixing. H
aving watched Don Murr