STEVE SLAGLE – Alto Manhattan
2016 / Panorama
Review written by Marc Tucker - February 6, 2017
Anything that alto saxist (and excellent flautist) Steve Slagle’s involved with, the moment you hear it, ya can’t help but blurt out “Now that, goddammit, is JAZZ!” The guy was born to the mode and gets better with each passing year; quite a feat considering he’s been top notch for decades. And when Joe Lovano teams up with him on tenor? Good God! Add the dynamic Bill Stewart on drums, Lawrence Fields on a piano switching between be-bop and Evans/Ellington picturesqueness, Gerald Cannon on a smokin’ hot bass, and then Roman Diaz’s congas tossed into three cuts, and you have a band so integrated they might as well have been welded together as a mobile of kinetic musos.
Slagle’s as pre-eminant a hornsman as any you can name, as is Lovano, and the appearance of one, the other, or both in any endeavor is a guarantor of quality, not to mention no respecters of boundaries, taking from many infra-styles while firmly positioned in the grand tradition. Steve’s work both reifies the sometimes elusive basic nature of jazz and then projects forward, not far, not 'fusion' as it’s commonly known, but enough past the studio doors to look to the stars while walking around the neighborhood.
Doesn’t matter if it’s his own work, as the lion’s share of comps here are, or someone else’s (three great covers splash in), everything carries the saxist’s sterling imprint. It’s one thing to ape the fare of the greats, as classical musicians do, but quite another to breath even more life into them via one’s own cognizances, aesthetics, and interpretations. Check out his take on Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul”, and you’ll see what I mean. That’s the solemnest section of the CD, everything else a blow fest, celebration, and seminar in what makes jazz jazz. But, man, that Stewart…a cross between Jack DeJohnette and Carl Palmer! No wonder a galaxy of jazz estimables have inducted the guy into a very impressive catalogue of releases. And if Steve Slagle’s a Samuel Johnson, Stewart’s his Boswell, setting everything on this disc firmly into indelible sonic quarto editions.
RELATED LINKS: Steve Slagle's Official Website