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Dave Stryker: Live at The Jazz Standard & Big City

Ernest Barteldes By

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Dave Stryker/Steve Slagle
Live at Jazz Standard
Zoho
2005

On Live at The Jazz Standard, one can feel the intense chemistry that Dave Stryker and Steve Slagle, who have played together for several years, have in their first live recording, captured last March at the Manhattan club. The recording is as raw as it gets and showcases not only the two musicians' talent but also that of bassist Ed Howard and drummer Victor Lewis.

Although the musicians demonstrate their love for bebop and boogaloo throughout most of the tracks, with Stryker and Slagle complementing each other's riffs, it is the simplest moments when you feel they are at their best. For instance, in the reinterpretation of George and Ira Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy, Stryker begins with a very retro Charlie Byrd-like succession of chords and the rest of the musicians follow Slagle as he begins the familiar notes of the tune. The saxophonist then drifts into a cool series of improv notes while the guitarist accompanies him with an almost bossa nova subtlety—a simple but effective way to approach this standard.

Another great moment is "Muddy Waters, a Dave Stryker blues composition in E ("which guitarists love but saxophones hate, wrote Slagle in the liner notes), which sets off with a traditional Clapton-meets-Chet Atkins bluesy intro and then morphs into a slow jazz tune as Slagle joins in. The song slowly modernizes itself as it goes on, bringing in various elements.

This album is a great document of some fantastic musical moments and if you were there, you helped make this an even better recording. You can feel how the musicians fed on the audience's enthusiasm and made each set an exciting musical journey.


Dave Stryker
Big City
Mel Bay
2005

On this solo release Stryker takes a different direction, exploring some bluesy moments and rereadings of some classic jazz songs alongside original material.

His take on the Sinatra classic "It Was a Very Good Year (recently remade by the late Ray Charles for his last album) is an innovative one: he takes a generally slow, downtempo tune and gives it a more swinging feel as a tribute to the late saxophonist Bob Berg, who co-wrote the arrangement with pianist David Kikoski, peforming with Stryker on the disc.

The beautiful Cole Porter "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye (Natalie Cole recently did it for the soundtrack of the underrated biopic De-Lovely) is one of the composer's finest moments not only for its beautiful lyrics but also for the richness of the melody, which gives Stryker a lot of space to improvise around by adding a few chord changes and giving it a more "cool East Coast feel.

The title track is a Stryker original, which translates the frenzied feel of New York City. Fast changing chords and an upbeat tempo take you right up there to rush hour and gives the feeling that you are on a musical express train heading to another hectic day on the town.


Live at the Jazz Standard

Tracks: Mozone; Boogaloo 7; Doubleblue; I Loves You Porgy; The Great Divide; Baba Marta; Muddy Waters; The Chaser; Passing Giant.

Personnel: Ed Howard: bass; Victor Lewis: drums; Steve Slagle: alto and soprano saxophones; Dave Stryker: guitar.

Big City

Tracks:Big City; All Night Long; Feelin' Good; Every Time We Say Goodbye; It Was a Very Good Year; If Every I Would Leave You; Biddy Fleet.

Personnel: Ed Howard: bass; Dave Kikoski: piano; Victor Lewis: drums; Dave Stryker: guitar.


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