By Scott Yanow | Published February 2017
While he was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Philadelphia, Slagle has been a resident of New York since 1976, and a 20-year resident of Upper Manhattan. Alto Manhattan pays tribute to the area in which he lives and the feeling of family that he has with the musicians and friends he calls neighbors.
The majority of the tracks on Alto Manhattan feature Slagle as the alto voice in a quartet with pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Bill Stewart. Joe Lovano guests on three songs as does Roman Diaz on congas, with Slagle switching to flute for the final two numbers.
The program begins with the sextet romping on the minor blues “Family,” which serves as a solid warmup for the album. The title track, an uptempo cooker that is a relative of “Impressions,” is heard twice with Lovano on tenor joining in on the second version. This concise jam features heated if brief solos with Fields sounding like early McCoy Tyner.
“Holiday,” a tribute to Toots Thielemans, features Slagle and Lovano on flute and G mezzo-soprano saxophone. The medium-tempo ballad has the horns accompanied by some stirring conga playing, and the album concludes with “Viva La Famalia,” a showcase for Slagle’s fluent flute.”
Alto Manhattan contains plenty of variety while being consistently satisfying.
Alto Manhattan: Family; Alto Manhattan; I Know That You Know; Body And Soul; Inception; Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; Alto Manhattan; Holiday; Viva La Famalia. (51:53)
Personnel: Steve Slagle, alto saxophone (1–7), flute (8, 9); Lawrence Fields, piano; Gerald Cannon, bass; Bill Stewart, drums; Roman Diaz, congas (1, 8, 9); Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone (1, 7), G mezzo-soprano saxophone (8).