Steve Slagle is a master of the saxophone slur, and on his new album, "Dedication," he employs it brilliantly in his melodic improvisations. Slagle began his career in the mid-1970's in the bands of Machito, Ray Barretto, and Lionel Hampton and went on to play with Jack McDuff and Carla Bley before forming his own bands with Mike Stern and Dave Stryker. He has also worked frequently with fellow saxophonist Joe Lovano.
Slagle is also an excellent composer, which is evident from the album's infectious opening cut, "Sun Song," dedicated to — and written in the style of — Sonny Rollins. As indicated by the title, all of the album's tunes are dedications, to a genre (Brazilian music in the case of his lovely "Triste Beleza") or to a person ("Sofi," dedicated to his young daughter). Special guest Stryker contributes a beautiful ballad, "Corazon," and some excellent guitar solos. Slagle has superb support throughout from Lawrence Fields on piano; Scott Colley, bass; Roman Diaz, percussion; and Bill Stewart, drums.