Review

STEVE SLAGLE Dedication

Album · 2018 · Hard Bop
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4/5 ·
kev rowland
By the time Steve was 18 he was already playing with Stevie Wonder, and since the Seventies he has followed a path that has seen him lead his own bands, played in others, and more recently has been in the Slagle/Stryker band. Guitarist Dave Stryker is special guest on this album, playing on six of the nine songs, and composing one of them (there is just one other non-Slagle original here, Wayne Shorter's 'Charcoal Blues"). Each of the nine songs here are dedicated to someone or something in particular, such as "Sun Song" being for Sonny Rollins, while "Sofi" is for Steve's own daughter, Sophia.

When someone has been performing at the top of the game for forty years they are able to easily find star musicians to play with them, and each of those on this album need special mention as the combination of their talents is just superb. Lawrence Fields has an incredibly delicate touch on piano, either taking the lead, providing simple chords as an accompaniment or duetting gracefully with Steve. Scott Colley never seems to take a rest on his bass, as he moves all over the instrument providing counter-melodies, and drummer Bill Stewart is never content to sit in just one style or beat as provides fills, rim shots and breaks while somehow keeping it all together. Roman Diaz only features on five of the nine songs, but the use of conga and percussion adds a very Latin feel to the sound when he is involved.

Then of course there is the man himself out front, providing fluid solos and always leading the way. He also allows plenty of space within the arrangements so that his playing maintains its impact and never becomes just a blur of notes, but he keeps the soul of the music alive and swinging. There is always plenty of room for everyone to shine, and the vitality of the album is incredibly infectious. Music to make the jazz lover smile
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