Steve Slagle

New New York

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Alto saxophonist Steve Slagle, one of New York's underrated veterans, pays tribute to his home city with this engaging record. Joining him are guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Cameron Brown, and drummer Gene Jackson. Slagle's good friend Joe Lovano appears on Monk's fiercely swinging "Thelonious," the spirited, Latin-tinged "Blackwell's Manhattan" (dedicated to the late drummer Ed Blackwell), and a free bop piece titled "Loftology" -- Slagle's tip of the hat to the loft scene of the '60s and '70s. There are two ballads: "What Comes Around Goes Around," which features vibraphone master Joe Locke, and "Mañha de Hudson," a beautiful, more modern piece featuring Slagle's alto flute and Stryker's acoustic guitar. On the other end of the mood spectrum, Stryker's slide guitar solo on the slow, swaggering "Bowery Blues" is remarkable, not least for its sheer unexpectedness -- you just don't hear slide guitar on jazz records. Wrapping up the album are Stryker's Latin/hard bop tune "Complicity" (again featuring Joe Locke), a swinging soprano sax feature titled "St. Mark's Shuffle," and a full-quartet reprise of the Scofield-like, funky title track, which opened the album first as a trio piece (apparently because Stryker got caught in traffic on the way to the recording session). As a short coda, Slagle and bassist Brown take a breezy duo stroll through Mingus's "Nostalgia in Times Square." Much like Lovano, Slagle is immersed in the tradition but looking for ways to broaden it, drawing deeply from the legacies of Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman in equal measure. The varied tunes on New New York bear out these stylistic commitments, resulting in a fine jazz portrait of New York by one of the city's own hidden treasures.

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