Steve Slagle – ALTO MANHATTAN: I’ve actually reviewed a lot of Steve’s superb sax and flute work before, on several albums he did with Dave Stryker (just search for “The Stryker Slagle Band, and you’ll find them). This is the first time (I believe) that I’ve heard him as a leader – and he SMOKES! Six of the nine cookin’ tunes on the release are originals, so that makes it (of course) even better!
He’s joined by some high-talent players… Joe Lovano on tenor saxophone & G mezzo soprano; Lawrence Fields doing piano; Gerald Cannon on bass; Roman Diaz on congas and Bill Stewart doing drums… as you listen to tunes like the 7:05 opener, “Family“, your ears will realize that you’ve discovered one of those true jazz gems… part of that is because all the players are present on this one, but it’s mainly because of the stellar energies they project through this powerful tune.
If it’s those hardcore “true blues” you’re yearning for, Steve & his core players will be your main band for quite some time to come after you listen to these guys get DOW-un in th’ dirt on the 7:01 “I Know That You Know“… and the recording is absolutely flawless – you’ll feel like they’re right there in your living room playing a personal set for you! I also loved the reed/keyboard interplay on “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry“… deep, rich tones that will (quite simply) astound you (as they did me; & I’m not that easily impressed these days, since I listen to so much great music).
It was Steve’s ultra-cool flute on the closing track, “Viva La Familia“, that wowed my ears to the point where the tune just HAD to be my personal favorite… again, on this track, you’ve got all the players (except for Joe Lovano), & they are in total “spontaneous mode” – about as close to improvised as one can get. Of course, you may find something that turns you on more, but I can say (without qualification) that this is some of the best sax/flute-led work I’ve heard (yet) in 2016. A truly illuminating jazz experience that totally merits the MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED I’m giving it… my “EQ” (energy quotient) rating for this winning music is 4.99.