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Feel-good music may be the best way to describe The Scene by The Stryker/Slagle Band. This quarter presents eight original songs and one cover, all in an upbeat mood. Each song, in some way, is dedicated to brother musicians.
Guitarist Dave Stryker spent more than 13 years with Stanley Turrentine and has worked with Jack McDuff, Kevin Mahogany and Eliane Elias. Saxophonist Steve Slagle has performed with Ray Barretto, Charlie Haden, Milton Nascimento and The Mingus Big Band among many others. Together, the two have fronted their own band for about 20 years. Sidemen on this project are Jay Anderson on bass and Victor Lewis on drums. Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano appears on four tracks.
"Skee" features Lovano and Slagle in a duet for the lead. This lively piece is dedicated to bassist Dennis Irwin, who died shortly before it was written. Stryker's rhythm guitar is played much like a piano would be in other ensembles. He also solos. Anderson and Lewis are emphatic in the background, but it's the two saxophones that carry this piece.
"Six Four Teo" is another piece that features Slagel and Lovano together. It's a strong composition for a quintet. The leads and solos are the focal points, but throughout, Anderson, Lewis and Stryker (when he's playing rhythm) don't get lost in the background.
Stryker is out front for most of "Kindred Spirits." This jazz-blues track gives Lewis a workout on the cymbals. Slagle enjoys a high-spirited alto sax solo. During the closing sequence, Anderson joins Slagle at the end of each phrase.
One of the beautiful things about The Scene is that all players are heavily involved. There's never a sense of it being all about the leads. The bass and drums provide a strong presence. The duets between Slagle and Lovano are excellent. And Stryker, whether as the lead or playing the rhythm, gives an A-plus effort.
Track Listing: Skee; The Scene; Six Four Teo; Two Sense; Kindred Spirits; Hopewell
Personnel: Dave Stryker: guitar; Steve Slagle: alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Jay Anderson: bass; Victor Lewis: drums; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 6, 7).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.