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Stryker/Slagle Band: Stryker/Slagle Band

Dave Stryker’s in a similar situation as Jimmy Ponder, a solid, no-frills professional whose smooth, easily executed style leads folk to underrate him. He’s joined with saxophonist Steve Slagle for a seven-song set of completely original material in a predominantly hard-bop vein on the Stryker/Slagle Band (Khaeon). There’s humorous numbers like “Tudo Muda,” where Slagle and Stryker joust with each other, and more intense songs such as “Every Dark Street” and drummer Tim Horner’s “Hands of the Sculptress.” The album’s musically conservative in that Stryker and Slagle write songs with good melodies and turnbacks, structured to give the soloists enough freedom to make their statements but not so lengthy as to lose momentum. Bassist Bill Moring and Horner are also top players, and there’s plenty of good music here. Another nice number is “Child’s Play,” a Slagle original that’s fortified by some excellent Stryker guitar. There’s really little to gripe about here, except for the lack of thematic diversity. But it’s encouraging that they disdained adapting show tunes or standards and emphasized their own music instead. These guys are fine jazz players.

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