A remarkable quartet co-lead by guitarist Dave Stryker and saxophonist/flautist Steve Slagle produces a Keeper worth listening to. The 10-track compilation is the fifth outing of the Stryker/Slagle Band and is the third project to partner Stryker and Slagle with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Victor Lewis. Anderson and Lewis reappear after the 2008 critcally acclaimed The Scene.
Keeper was recorded at a successful engagement at New York's Jazz Standard in Anderson's Mountain Rest Studio in upstate New Paltz. The result is a relaxed, refreshing sound that showcases each of the band member's individual talents. The title track offers the listener a beautiful blend of sax and strings, propelled by the articulate drumming of Lewis. The group does an interesting arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear," in which Slage's alto tone conjures the appropriate tone for the song's melancholy melody. The compilation ends with the AfroCuban-flavored track "Good 4 U," which gives drummer Lewis the opportunity to display his singularly signature voice. With 20 years of experience together, the Stryker/Slagle Band has become one of the most well-known groups playing jazz today. The talents of two leaders as composers and improvisers sets the group apart from being just another pickup band who merely performs at a gig.