Presently, guitarist Dave Stryker and reedsman Steve Slagle are employing bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Billy Hart (tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano joins the band on two of the cuts). The music collected here by the two leaders is made up of mostly original compositions that might fall into the category of post-Miles post bop. The pieces are characterized by complex melody lines and improvisations over the cacophonous drumming by Billy Hart, recalling a young Tony Williams in his fire breathing days.
Both principals are equally adept at composing musical pieces brimming with lengthy, complex melodies that are at once challenging and familiar. These songs are typically performed with Stryker and Slagle doubling notes and chords, followed by one or the other soloing. Stryker is an excellent accompanist, providing Slagle a soft chording cushion. Stryker has evolved his guitar sound into a very personal one that's soft, round and precise. Slagle plays soulfully on both soprano and alto horns.
Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano joins the band for Stryker's bebop-drenched "Bird Flew and Slagle's tribute to the late John Hicks, "Dear Mr. Hicks. Lovano exists on an equal creative plane with Stryker and Slagle on this recording, elevating the two above their usually high level of creativity. The band really kicks things into gear on these selections. The Stryker/Slagle Band has been on the cutting edge of progressive jazz for twenty years, and they continue to deserve attention.
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