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The Stryker/Slagle Band documents a working group that finally made it into the studio to preserve its unique sound. Dave Stryker and Steve Slagle have been performing together in several contexts since 1986, including performing on each other's recordings. This is the first time the two musicians co-lead a date. Stryker, Slagle, and drummer Tim Horner provide seven original compositions for this recording. All of the pieces are wedged deep in the contemporary/post bop vein, full of craggy complex heads and well-conceived, penetrating solos.
Dave Stryker has been everywhere in the past couple of years, playing for what seems like everyone. Most recently, Mr. Stryker has applied his talent on Trio Mundo's Carnaval and Sylvia Cuenca's Exit 13. These recordings represent vastly different contexts. The former is a well-developed Latin jazz excursion, while the latter is a relaxed organ-guitar trio date. Steve Slagle also performed most recently on Carnaval, Stryker's Blue to the Bone III and with the Mingus Big Band. Both men remain sought-after studio artists and sidemen.
But, up front is where The Stryker/Slagle Band finds them, steering their way through a fine recital. Highlights include the opener, Stryker's "Nothin' Wrong with It." The guitarist's chording sounds like that of a piano while Slagle is full throated and muscular. Bassist Bill Moring puts the "S" in swing on all of these pieces, while Tim Horner shows up with great accompaniment on his and Slagle's tenor/drums break on the Slagle original "Highlife," which also sports a good bass solo by Horner. Horner opens the blues "Every Dark Street." This is termed an "easy blues," but it is a bit too menacing to truly be "easy" though its pace certainly is that.
The Stryker/Slagle Band is very easy on the ears, despite the often-challenging compositions provided by the band. This is very much a growth record, fostering jazz with intellectual and visceral original charts and performances. Highly recommended.
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.