"THE STRYKER/SLAGLE BAND -- A SUBSTANTIAL UNIT FEATURING THE GUITARIST DAVE STRYKER,THE SAXOPHONIST STEVE SLAGLE, BASSIST JAY ANDERSON,AND DRUMMER VICTOR LEWIS --- GETS EVEN BEEFIER WITH THE ADDITION OF SAXOPHONIST JOE LOVANO"
Jazz Times - April 07
The Stryker / Slagle Band
Latest Outlook (Zoho)
Though it's title might suggest otherwise, "Latest Outlook" owes much of its charm and vitality to early influences (Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus), old friends (the late pianist John Hicks) and collaborative reunions. Guitarist Dave Stryker and saxophonist Steve Slagle re-team with drummer Billy Hart, bassist Jay Anderson and the duo's special guest, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano.
Lovano, whose presence is nearly always worth the price of admission, doesn't disappoint. He appears on two tracks-Stryker's "Bird flew" and Slagles's "Dear Mr. Hicks"-and both performances rank among the albums highlights, though for sharply contrasting reasons. Parker's bop anthem is brashly orchestrated for tandem horns and searing improvisations (with Hart vigorously fanning the flames), while the Hicks homage soulfully evokes the pianist's broad yet seemingly effortless reach and more than hints at his ties to the Mingus Big Band.
Mingus himself is represented by "Self-Portrait in Three Colors." It's an elegantly arranged, hauntingly paced performance, subtly shaded by Hart and Anderson. It's also yet another example of Stryker's quiet flair for combining blues-tinged lyricism with pianistic accompaniments, a talent honed during extensive road work with sax titan Stanley Turrentine. Slagle is no less resourceful, whether doubling on alto and soprano or composing music as fresh as the album's 12-tone-based title track or as evocative as the Hick's elegy. Also worth noting is the album's centerpiece, the Stryker-penned "Hartland," which stands apart by providing an atmospheric showcase for Slagle's insinuating soprano, Stryker's acoustic and electric guitars, Anderson's resonating tone and Hart's gliding propulsion.
JazzWise Magazine (UK), march 07 THE STRYKER/ SLAGLE BAND
Zoho ZM 200703
Stryker (g); Steve Slagle (as, ss); Joe Lovano (ts); Jay Anderson (b); Billy Hart (d). Rec: 2006
Dave Stryker’s basic background has generally centred around organ jazz, while Slagle has been associated with big bands from, first Hampton and Herman, then most recently the Mingus aggregation, with which he’s been a superb lead alto. The’ve been recording together for over twenty years now, mainly for Steeplechase. They’re in the same age group as their two-title guest Lovano and though Joe is far more famous because of his Blue Note albums, the co-leaders are equally striking soloists. Their piano-less group approach is a mixture of a hard bop base, heavily laced with lessons learned from Ornette Coleman, with some Mingus in there as well. In fact, his beautiful “Self Portrait in Three Colors”, the only non-band original, is one of many highlights on this latest CD, the follow-up to their ‘05 “Live at the Jazz Standard”.
Lovano, who last recorded with them in 2000 on Omnitone, fits into the format perfectly, Anderson, their regular bassist knows, exactly where the horns are going and Billy Hart is as tasteful, imaginative and unobtrusive as ever. All the tunes are well above average with special mention for the tender, very Ornettish tribute to the late John Hicks (“Dear Mr. Hicks”).
Downbeat Magazine - April 2007 The Stryker / Slagle Band Latest Outlook zoho 200703 3 1/2 stars
Guitarist Dave Stryker and saxaphonist Steve Slagle's quartet produces an expert, agile bit of modern jazz on Latest Outlook. This is the music's mainstream in plain view: compact and driving charts filled with tag-team post-bop, early-21st century complexity and a guest spot for saxophonist Joe Lovano.
Just because this stuff's familiar, however, doesn't take away from the many pleasures it offers. Stryker possesses extreme musical fluency (listen to his road-race runs on "In Just Time"); ideas simply pour out of him.
Slagle produces moments of terrific tenderness. He can be grumpy and even academic (the rote line on "Knew Hold"), but he's also meticulous. On the dates's only non-original, Charles Mingus' "Self-Portrait in Three Colors," he offers skittering longtones, quick two-step climbs and a tone that proves how emotionally candid this music can be. Slagle's sweetness is evident as well on "Hartland," where broad acoustic strumming and a winsome soprano line spring from this simple play on words.
Lovano's moments can't be missed: a stuttering, whiplash entry on the date's other contrafact, the "Confirmation" variation "Bird Flew," and the Ornette Coleman-esque dirge "Dear Mr. Hicks."
CD Review: All About Jazz NY February 2007
Dave Stryker/Steve Slagle Band (Zoho)
After last year’s Live at The Jazz Standard, the
Slagle/Stryker band reconvened in the studio to
record a batch of new compositions. The general
sound of the new album is completely different from
the previous recording - the leaders are the only two
musicians to appear this time around and the quartet
is enhanced by the presence of Joe Lovano’s tenor
saxophone on two of the tracks.
The first impression you get is that they seem to
swing harder in the confines of a studio - without the
time constraints of a “set”, the group seems to play
more freely and the improvisations sound a bit more
spontaneous. Just check out Billy Hart’s drum solo on ”Latest Outlook” and also the dueling leads of the two
saxes on “Bird Flew”, a Stryker original dedicated to
One track that immediately stands out is ”Hartland” in which Stryker plays with a steel-string
acoustic (though he overdubs an electric solo),
providing a background to create more improvised
moments; listen how bassist Jay Anderson takes
advantage of this by playing subtler notes on his
instrument and also engaging in a beautiful duet with
Slagle during the main melody.
Lovano joins the quartet once again for “Dear Mr.
Hicks”, a Slagle original written in tribute to pianist
John Hicks, who had recently passed at the time of the
recording. As the liners state, Slagle played with him
in the Mingus Big Band and the Joe Lovano Nonet and
the tune is intended “to represent his musical
personality starting with an elegy that leads into some
hard swing.” That goal is reached and hearing the two
saxophonists exchange jabs backed by Anderson’s
steady walking bass is a pleasure.
The highlight of this album is Charles Mingus’
”Self-Portrait in Three Colors”, the only cover on the
disc. The tune’s simple changes give the band a chance
to explore their chops. Stryker is in his element,
playing a song he knows well and doing it in his own