The idea that in spirit we are all ‘brothers on the scene’ with this music is how the Stryker / Slagle Band embarked on this latest recording of new music. Much of it is in dedication to those who have lived this way in music all of their lives.
On that note, the first song of mine, "Skee" is for our friend and bassist Dennis Irwin, and was written shortly after his passing. We played it in the studio for the first time, and it felt good enough to open this recording with it.
Other compositions have been played at live performances throughout the last year. Often we have expanded the sound to two saxes, and invited our friend the great tenor man Joe Lovano, who is our special guest here. The arrangements of Dave Stryker’s "Brighter Days" and my "Six Four Teo" are tailor made for five pieces. Both have a very positive vibe and uplift you sound-wise, I think.
On my ballad "Hopewell’s Last", the sound of my soprano sax and Joe’s tenor in octaves and harmony along with Dave’s one-of-a-kind accompaniment, brings out the tone of the song. This is one that I put a lot of effort into composing, and yet the whole song and title came to me at the piano in about ten minutes! It is dedicated to my late brother, Stuart Slagle R.I.P.
It’s worth mentioning here that the piano-less sound of the two horns is really perfectly balanced, I feel, by Dave’s guitar work on this date. This is the sound we have been honing in on for quite awhile together and here we hit it on the head.
Getting back to the core of the Stryker / Slagle Band as a quartet, Dave contributed the title song "The Scene", which although complicated, has an ‘easy-street’ feel to it. My song "Two Sense", was written for my little girl Lydia and has, like her, an open-to-all harmony. On both of these songs Jay Anderson, whose bass bottom is always the best, really shines as a soloist. I like his solo so much on "Two Sense" I wish he had played first!
With "Kindred Spirits", Dave uses his acoustic guitar re-tuned. This is along the lines of "Hartland" from our last recording Latest Outlook. He has that ‘big horizon’ sound, along with the blues, in his roots. Also I convinced Dave to keep that acoustic sound and do a duet with me on flute. Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s composition is something I listened to as a kid when it was first released on LP by this master musician of all time. I’m very happy we recorded "Fingers in the Wind", (done by-the-way in one take on flute and guitar).
We end the recording reaching back and forward, at the same time, with "Strikology". Dave wrote this melody off of a classic Coltrane set of changes that we all know. Victor Lewis, so musical as always, tears it up on this closer. Yes.
After we finished this recording at Jay Anderson’s Mountain Rest Studio, (with his superb engineering and mixing), all of us city boys felt we had accomplished what we set out to do: Play music that is up to these times, and with that in mind, portray a very positive sound. I hope we conveyed The Scene to the most important component—you, the listener---EARS TO YOU!!
Steve Slagle, June 25, 2008
Taking a break during the recording session in April 2008, from left : Victor Lewis, Steve Slagle, Dave Stryker, Jay Anderson, Joe Lovano.
Guitarist Dave Stryker and Saxophonist Steve Slagle have been developing their own group sound for over 20 years. “The Scene”, their fourth CD as The Stryker / Slagle Band, follows last year’s “Latest Outlook” (ZOHO Music). The latest edition of The SSB includes bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Victor Lewis who have played with Dave and Steve off and on since the beginning.
Dave Stryker spent over 13 years with Stanley Turrentine, and also worked with Jack McDuff, Kevin Mahogany and Eliane Elias. He has 20 CD’s out as a leader, and has been a sideman on over 50 others.
Saxophonist Steve Slagle has released 10 CD’s as a leader, and performed as a sideman on countless others. He has played with Machito, Ray Barretto, Charlie Haden, Milton Nascimento, Carla Bley, The Mingus Big Band, and Joe Lovano’s Nonet.
Jay Anderson has played bass with Dave and Steve since the 80’s and is on several of their CD’s. He has 2 CD’s out as a leader and has also played with Michael Brecker, Joe Sample, Paul Bley, Bob Berg, Maria Schneider, and Frank Zappa.
Victor Lewis, besides being one of the greats on the drums, is a leader/composer with 4 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. Co-produced by Jay Anderson. Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Jay Anderson at Mountain Rest Studio, New Paltz, NY, on April 15, 2008. Photos by George Kopp. Session photos by Joanne Klein. Package Design by Al Gold. Executive Producer: Joachim “Jochen” Becker.
Joe Lovano appears courtesy of Blue Note Records.