The key to success for guitarist Dave Stryker and saxophonist/flutist Steve Slagle is to balance original ideas with a tasteful, slightly unusual back catalog. Take the version of Thelonious Monk’s great tune “I Mean You” on Stryker’s newest release, Full Moon (Steeplechase): somehow Slagle and Stryker infuse Monk’s jerky melody with the hang-back party beat of a New Orleans parade band. They’re just as likely to renovate challenging compositions by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman–lesser-known tunes too, not standard fare–as they are to take on works by accepted mainstream masters like Wayne Shorter and Horace Silver. Both these understated New Yorkers are obviously interested in the meat of the music rather than distracting ornament. Slagle’s incisive alto and soprano tone is perfectly matched by Stryker’s lean guitar. Stryker played with organist Jack McDuff and currently works in tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine’s group; a heavy soul quotient runs through his terse, supportive comping and thoughtful soloing, and his own compositions bear the deep mark of the blues. Slagle, who also records with his own quartet for the Danish Steeplechase label, has worked in Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, the Carla Bley Band, and is now the conductor, arranger, and first alto sax in the Charles Mingus Big Band. In a sparse setting Slagle’s a compelling soloist, brimming with melodic thoughts and clear rhythmic concepts. Drummer Eric Halverson and bassist Bill Moring will complete the foursome. Friday, 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photos of Stryker and Slagle.