Stryker/Slagle Band Hits Pittburgh's North Side
Emphasizing versatility of styles and influences Horner commented, “Each one of us grows on a daily basis from our other musical experiences. These outside influences help define our melding pot of sounds.”
The night’s tunes indeed ran the gamut of musical styles. From hard-swingin’ blues and rhythm changes to an Indian tabla-inspired tune, “Badal” (named after a tabla-playing friend of the band), the band’s influences were diverse and varied. After opening with the jazz-rock original “Nothing Wrong With It,” followed by a blues, Stryker, much to the delight of his audience, introduced an original entitled “Dark Street,” with the chords of Jimi Hendrix’ “House of the Rising Sun” showing his equal familiarity with rock. The song then took on a highly original rhythmic quality with a frightening ESP between the leaders, who were too exact for comfort on the unison theme. While masterfully trilling on consonant sixths and thirds, Stryker, Horner and Moring showed their sensitivity for dynamics behind Slagle’s bluesy alto solo.
Other notable moments included Slagle noticing the couples and fathers in the audience, and introducing his family life inspired composition “Rhythm Method”. He surely gave the audience a “schooling” in modern post-bop alto playing, while cruising with Coltrane-like fury from the low end of the horn all the way to its upper limits and beyond. At one point, mid-solo, to my great pleasure, he quoted Charlie Parker’s classis “Moose the Mooche” and Stryker immediately echoed his companion’s remark without the slightest hesitation or communication. After an inspired bass solo by Moring with brass-like sax/guitar backgrounds, Stryker and Slagle launched into a collective improvisation that felt like well-defined call and response, while at the same each man being complementary to the other and making instantaneous harmony out of two melodic lines. This kind of spontaneity is only possible from musicians who really know each other. And these guys don’t just know each other – they get underneath each others’ skin.