1

Steve Slagle: Evensong

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Slagle: Evensong
Saxophonist Steve Slagle is a consummate leader often pegged as a sideman; with a résumé that includes stints with big band legends like Woody Herman and Lionel Hampton, left-of-center trailblazers like pianist Carla Bley, Latin giants like Ray Barretto and modern day marvels like tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, it's easy to see why some people may look at him as a side dish, but outings under his own name mark him as main course material.

His outstanding '90s quartet dates—Reincarnation (Steeplechase, 1994) and Alto Blue (Steeplechase, 1997)—put him on the map as a notable leader on record, and he's been working the foursome format ever since, either under his own name or with guitarist Dave Stryker in the co-led Stryker Slagle Band; Evensong puts the saxophonist's name on top, but lives as a de facto Stryker/Slagle date, since both men contribute tunes and share the frontline. The presence of bassist Ed Howard, who appears on their Live At The Jazz Standard (Zoho, 2005), furthers this notion. The new guy at the party, drummer McClenty Hunter, fits in just fine with the other three previously connected parties, as he builds swing foundations, delivers firepower on "Shadowboxing" and sets up a slick groove behind Slagle's Eddie Harris-esque "Alive."

When viewed together, Slagle has often been tagged as the bop-to-beyond part of the team and Stryker the blues-and-soul side of the equation, but those labels don't do them justice; they certainly excel in those particular realms, but they both work far beyond those assigned borders. Slagle and Stryker share a near telepathic rapport and they've learned how best to complement one another in any setting over the years. Sometimes they simply sync up on a head and effortlessly fly through the song together, but that's not a given as, at other moments, Stryker comps along in supportive fashion while Slagle slyly sets things motion, or sits back and lets Stryker spread his wings.

Slagle dedicates a good number of these songs to friends and inspirations without aping those musicians' respective sounds and styles. The album opener name checks bassist Charles Mingus and gives a nod to the late Dennis Irwin, "Equal Nox" is connected to John Coltrane, having been written on the saxophonist's birthday, the absorbing "Quiet Folks" gives due respect to guitarist Jim Hall, and "The Star-Crossed Lovers" is an obvious, album-ending tribute to the song's composers—the great Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Slagle's horn(s) may continue to serve as musical enhancement on other people's projects, but he's an artist who deserves attention as an out-front entity and each one of his albums continue to prove that point.

Track Listing

Mingus In Us; Blues Four; Supermoon; Quiet Folks; Shadowboxing; Alive; Equal Nox; B Like Me; The Star-Crossed Lovers.

Personnel

Steve Slagle: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Dave Stryker: guitar; Ed Howard: bass; McClenty Hunter: drums.

Album information

Title: Evensong | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Panorama Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read When You Find It
When You Find It
Arthur White and Merge
Read Rainbow Baby
Rainbow Baby
Cathlene Pineda
Read An Open Dialogue
An Open Dialogue
Linda Sikhakhane
Read Rah! Rah!
Rah! Rah!
The Claire Daly Band
Read Artlessly Falling
Artlessly Falling
Mary Halvorson's Code Girl
Read Hi-Fly
Hi-Fly
Howard University Jazz Ensemble
Read And Then It Rained
And Then It Rained
The Michael O'Neill Quartet

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.