Dave and I have recorded a lot together, but this is our first live CD. It features almost all new music, and is our first with Ed Howard on bass and Victor Lewis on drums. At first we were going to use the Jazz Standard gig to work out the new material, and then go into the studio, but Dave called one day and said “Hey why don’t we just record the two nights live?” So the rest is history, as they say.
All four one-hour sets had good moments to choose from, and the interaction with an enthusiastic audience raised the music to a higher level. With engineer Jon Rosenberg we were blessed with a man with ears, and the technical know-how to pull something like this off. The reason I say ‘pull it off’ is that Dave and I were playing new music, with the exception of the ballad “Porgy” and “Muddy Waters”. Dave couldn’t resist playing that with Victor! So the task of recording new music with a live audience, for two nights, was harder than you might imagine. As it turned out all the sets had good stuff including the first tune of the first night:
I wrote Mozone while Dave and I were on a tour in Japan last year. During a hot August afternoon in Tokyo, I went to the club we were playing (Someday) and this song just popped up between my alto and the piano. I dedicate it to our friend and club owner “Mou” Mori-San. We often open up with this song, as it’s a burner, allowing the whole band to loosen up and play collectively.
Boogaloo 7 is a rhythm I first heard the great Billy Higgins play, usually in 4/4, yet I wrote this tune in 7/4. I can dance to it with my 6 month-old daughter, and it has that ‘people music’ vibe, one of my favorite moments on the record. Dave gets into his true down-home blues roots on this for sure!
I came up with Doubleblue as a duo with drums. Then I realized it was a 24-bar blues instead of 12. The way things go sometimes in life, you can feel doubleblue - right? This is classic Stryker / Slagle.
I Love’s You Porgy is by one of my favorite composers, born in the East Village NYC, the most soulful place in the USA George Gershwin. Dave and I worked up this arrangement and play it whenever the mood hits us.
The Great Divide this Stryker composition is a vehicle for Victor Lewis, which also allows for Dave and me to get into some of our best collective playing. One thing we have developed by playing many years together is our own way of soloing at the same time. On this take I think you can hear that at one moment it’s hair-raising. Luckily I have a shaved head!
Baba Marta has a funny background. I came up with it while driving my four year-old daughter and singing with her. (She’s a good singer!) Then I went to the piano and found out we were in 6/4. So after a bass line, harmony, and a bridge came forth, I found it had a Brazilian vibe that fit my soprano sax sound. It only needed a guitar intro which Dave came up with very slick! The day we recorded it, it was “Baba Marta”, a holiday in Bulgaria, my wife’s home country, a very positive ‘new spring’ kind of day.
Muddy Waters is one of Dave’s great blues compositions. Dave’s guitar intro really sets it up, but then takes you to the blues future. It’s in E which guitarists love and saxes hate but I’ve learned to dig it. Check out Victor Lewis on this he is the drummer for this song - all praise!
The Chaser - his Stryker burner employs the guitar-sax / two voice kind of sound we like to get. It’s form keeps moving and with help from our rhythm section of Ed and Victor, Dave and I can just ride the wave.
I wrote Passing Giant upon the passing of one of my greatest inspirations- Elvin Jones. Ed Howard’s intro should be transcribed by every bassist on the planet! Within this take you can hear us quoting quite a few times in homage to the masters. Composition-wise I’m really pleased how this one came out, and I think Elvin and his music are still with us!
The Stryker / Slagle Band live at the Jazz Standard, on March 3, 2005. From left : Steve Slagle, Dave Stryker, Ed Howard, Victor Lewis. Photo by Sergio Royzen.
So, on behalf of the Stryker / Slagle Band, I hope everyone can get into this, our first live recording, from a great venue in NYC “The Jazz Standard” which BTW has some of the best barbeque ribs in town… Yes, hear that sound!
Guitarist Dave Stryker’s and saxophonist Steve Slagle’s musical partnership goes back close to 20 years. Their unique group sound has been documented on several albums, but this is their first live CD.
Guitarist Dave Stryker has released 18 CD’s as leader and spent 13 years recording and touring with sax great Stanley Turrentine, as well as stints with Jack McDuff, Kevin Mahogany, Eliane Elias and many others. He has appeared on over 50 CD’s.
Saxophonist Steve Slagle has released 10 CD’s under his own name and performed as a sideman on countless others. He has played with Machito, Lionel Hampton, Jack McDuff, Ray Barretto, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Milton Nascimento, the Mingus Big Band, and Joe Lovano’s Nonet.
Much in-demand bassist Ed Howard was the bassist in drum legend Roy Haynes’ quartet for 15 years, and has played on over 50 recordings. He has performed with Clifford Jordan, Eddie Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Bob Berg, and many others and is currently the bassist in Shirley Horn’s trio.
Victor Lewis besides being one of the greats on drums, is a leader/composer with 7 CD’s under his own name. He has worked with Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, and many others.
Produced by Dave Stryker and Steve Slagle. Associate Producer : Jim Eigo. Executive Producer : Joachim Becker Recorded March 2-3, 2005 live at the Jazz Standard, NYC. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jon Rosenberg. Cover photo : Jimmy Katz Other photos Sergio Royzen. Package Design : Three and Co., New York (www.threeandco.com).
Steve Slagle plays Yanagisawa alto and soprano saxophones