The Stryker/Slagle Band reveals the secret behind producing a crisp first effort with telepathic communication among all parties. That secret, in this case, is to play together for over fifteen years before recording as co-leaders. It also doesn't hurt to have the same rhythm section, in the persons of drummer Tim Horner and bassist Bill Moring, for six of those years. Guitarist Dave Stryker and alto/soprano saxophonist Steve Slagle are integral parts of the NYC jazz scene and have appeared solo and in support of each other on multiple projects. With new, individually self-penned material, this recording is contemporary yet exhibits a collective consciousness honed through years of gigs and experiences.
The distinctively articulated in-tandem double lead melody of the Stryker composition that opens the disc attests that there is "Nothin' Wrong With It." Sax and guitar then go their separate ways, Stryker retaining a hint of the melody in his exploration but Slagle taking the line farther out still. Stryker's guitar joins back in and together the two are once again in perfect melodic sync. The session has just that kind of feel: two friends who together can conquer the world but are comfortable enough to give each other plenty of space to do their own thing. Slagle seems the more adventurous, especially on his own pieces like "Child's Play," which features a driving alto solo; "Highlife," with its Latin flavor and wonderful sax/drums duet; and the breezy Brazilian-inspired "Tudo Muda."
Stryker's playing is the more graceful with his powerfully expressive chordal backdrops and precise solos. This is not to say that Stryker doesn't rip off the lightning quick runs, he certainly does on "Long Gone," "Hands of the Sculptress," and the aforementioned opener. However, when these two leaders synchronize their playing, and they do often, they touch the sky.
This review originally appeared in All About Jazz - New York .
Personnel: Dave Stryker - guitar;
Steve Slagle - alto and soprano sax;
Tim Horner - drums;
Bill Moring - bass.