Steve Slagle honors others on “Dedication”

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“Dedication” by Steve Slagle is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed, “Alto Manhattan.” The album is comprised of nine songs, each dedicated to a person that played a significant role in his personal or professional life. An array of individuals, from his young daughter to Wayne Shorter serve as inspiration behind the songs.

Apparently, with “Alto Manhattan,” there was a bit of wordplay going on and the phrase had more than one meaning. “Dedication” also has a double-meaning. The word can mean a commitment to craft, as in jazz. It can also mean to specify a gift or honor for. Both of the meanings are in play, and audiences can hear that as they listen to the recording.

Soundscape of “Dedication”

Slagle’s saxophone comes to life on each track. For example on “Sun Song” (for Sonny Rollins), Slagle’s horn sounds bright and brassy (in a good way). The drums clatter just right, and the bass and piano are almost understated. A few different motifs, including those with Latin-inspired percussion, spin throughout the song and it sounds like swing-infused jazz meant for dancing.

“Niner”: by Steve Slagle

The song is based on a nickname given Slagle by bassist/composer Steve Swallow. Perhaps as a result the song sounds bass-centric. There are guitar elements that make the piece sound like jazz fusion, and a thudding, deep and rhythmic bass that keeps a sense of consistency, even when other parts of the instrumentation vamp a bit. The active shimmer of drums also helps to keep the song lively.

“Charcoal Blues”: Steve Slagle

Like the rest of the songs on “Dedication,” “Charcoal Blues” is dedicated to someone who impacted Slagle’s live personally or professionally. In this case, the song is dedicated to saxophonist and composer, Wayne Shorter. Like Slagle, Shorter also plays two different register of saxophone. Slagle mentions that Shorter’s sound struck him, even when Shorter was not playing his own compositions. It is a fascination that has been with Slagle since he was 10 years old.

The song is a lively piece with an up and down feel. Not in terms of emotion, but in terms of movement. The rhythm and arrangement make it seem as though there is physicality built into the song.┬áSlagle’s saxophone work is classic and serves as a cornerstone of the piece.

On “Dedication,” Slagle on flute and saxophone, is joined by Lawrence Fields on piano, Scott Colley on bass, Bill Stewart on drums, Roman Diaz on conga, percussion and a guest appearance by Dave Stryker. The album will be available for purchase Jan. 4, 2018.

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