Steve Slagle biography
Born in Los Angeles, California, Steve started his professional career while a student on scholarship at Berklee in Boston in the 1970s. There, he played with colleagues John Scofield, Harvie Swartz, Joey Baron and Joe Lovano and with the band of Stevie Wonder. His voice centers on the alto saxophone, but also includes soprano sax as well as flute and alto clarinet.
Since moving to New York City in 1977, Steve has worked with Machito and His Afro-Cuban Orchestra (1977-8, lead alto), the Steve Kuhn Quartet (1978-9), Eddie Palmieri, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman (1979-81), "Brother" Jack McDuff (1981), the Carla Bley Band (1981-5), the Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra (1985), the Ray Barretto Band (1988-91) and the Charles Mingus Big Band (1991-9).
As a leader, Steve's first record High Standards was released by Polydor Japan in 1983. Traveling to Brazil as a guest of Milton Nascimento's band, Steve recorded the instrumental album Rio Highlife, released on Atlantic Records in 1986. Subsequent touring with his New York group included Japan, Canada and Europe, as well as the States. This quartet often featured Mike Stern on guitar and Adam Nussbaum on drums and recorded a CD with bassist Jaco Pastorius on Big World Records, Raça.
In the early 1990s, Steve produced his own recording Smoke Signals (on Panorama Records) and, since 1992, has recorded five albums for SteepleChase Records and two with his quartet featuring Tim Hagans on trumpet, one with Kenny Drew Jr on piano. The fourth quartet recording, Alto Blue, has Ryan Kisor on trumpet and focuses on the blues form. His fifth album was entitled Slagle Plays Monk. Steve also co-leads a group with guitarist Dave Stryker, playing on four of Stryker's CDs and touring with him in the states as the Slagle-Stryker Band.
Steve's most recent album New New York on OmniTone presents his celebratory musical portrait of the Big Apple. It features a quartet with Stryker, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Gene Jackson and includes guest appearances by top tenorman Joe Lovano and vibraphone dynamo Joe Locke.
A member of BMI, Steve's publishing company Slagle Music has a long list of original compositions recorded by himself and other artists. In the '90s, Steve was lead altoist and chief arranger with the Mingus Big Band, voted #1 in the Down Beat poll for two years in a row and Grammy-nominated for their last three records.
More recently, in addition to performing with his own quartet and the Slagle-Stryker Band, Steve has performed worldwide with the Joe Lovano "52nd Street Themes" Nonet and the Joe Lovano Quartet Featuring Steve Slagle.
Steve has received four National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants for composition and performance, enabling him to produce music for several horns and a large rhythm section. Also writing jazz saxophone quartet (published by Advance Music), Steve was chosen to perform at the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) Annual Conference 2000.
Steve is currently on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and The New School in New York City and works as a jazz clinician and guest artist throughout the world.
Steve endorses Vandoren Reeds and plays both Selmer and Yanagisawa saxophones.