Apr 3, 2021
Steve Slagle is certainly an artist up for meeting a challenge. The veteran saxophone/flute player had been set to record a new album in the early Summer of 2020, but the complete shut down of live and recorded music due to COVID-19 put a stop to that. However, always looking for a way to get his music heard, he found that in the Fall he was able to reserve the large Sear Sound, Studio A on 48th Street in Manhattan. And he further found he could secure the exact musicians he felt were needed for the recording of what became his new release, Nascentia.
The album features Slagle backed with top players - Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Clark Gayton (trombone), Bruce Barth (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), and Jason Tiemann (drums). The lineup allows Slagle to have the trombone take a lower voice, with his alto sax and Pelt’s trumpet filling in the top, creating unique textures. Nascentia features the title suite of five tunes, plus other Slagle originals, including two poignant tributes to collaborators who have passed on - “A Friend In Need (for Michael Brecker)” and Harold Marbern’s “I Remember Britt” for the late Britt Woodman.
Slagle attended Berklee College of Music and received a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. His first gig upon arriving in New York was with the legendary Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra, mostly playing the thriving salsa clubs in the five boroughs. Since then, he has toured and recorded with Ray Barretto, Steve Kuhn, Carla Bley and more. Besides leading his own combos, he has had long working relationships with guitarists Mike Stern and Dave Stryker, plus playing, arranging and writing for the Mingus Big Band and Joe Lovano’s Nonet.
Podcast 809 is my conversation with Steve, as we talk about Nascentia, including taking a deep dive into several of the tunes, plus get to hear his memories of working with Lovano, Stern, Jaco Pastorius, and Dr. John. You’ll get a chance to hear “All Up In It,” the rousing tune that starts the title suite.
Steve Slagle will be performing at Smalls Jazz Club in Manhattan tonight, and you can stream in live here.