With 20 years experience together and five discs to its credit now, the Stryker/Slagle Band has proven itself to be one of the most enduring units playing jazz today. The combined talents of guitarist Dave Stryker and saxophonist Steve Slagle as composers and improvisers sets it apart from the many pickup groups assembled just to make a gig or a record. The fifth outing by the band, "Keeper", is the third to partner the pair with the formidable rhythm team of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Victor Lewis. Recorded after a successful engagement at New York's Jazz Standard, the disc captures the band at its very best, both relaxed and cutting edge.
Singer Stacey Kent has established herself as one of the new century's brightest jazz revelations. Voted best jazz vocalist at the 2001 British Jazz Awards, and the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards, she was also a 2009 Grammy nominee. France became her special stomping ground last year, with a sell-out nationwide tour and the National Order of Arts and Letters decoration, bestowed by the French Minister of Culture. Stacey's new CD, "Raconte-Moi...", was recorded entirely in French, and she sings the language with fluency and flair on great classics of the French musical heritage and original work by talented young songwriters.
Other new music -- Grammy Award-winning guitarist Lee Ritenour celebrates his instrument with "6 String Theory", featuring a star-studded tribute including George Benson, John Scofield, Pat Martino, Mike Stern and B.B. King; drummer Manu Katche dishes up his third helping of contemporary jazz for ECM Records, "Third Round"; and pianist Bob Mamet and his trio highlight ten of Mamet's original tunes on his fourth disc as a leader, "Impromptu."