b. 18 September 1951, Los Angeles, California, USA. Starting out playing saxophones while still very young, Slagle moved to the opposite side of the country where he studied at the Berklee College Of Music. Subsequently, and through the 70s, he worked with artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, John Scofield and Machito. In the early years of the next decade he was with Woody Herman’s band, playing tenor saxophone, and also worked with Lionel Hampton, playing alto, and Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Steve Kuhn, and Mingus Dynasty. At the end of the 80s he was musical director for the Ray Barretto Band. His first album as a leader was released in 1983, and during the 80s he often worked with a quartet featuring Jaco Pastorius (bass), Mike Stern (guitar) and Adam Nussbaum (drums). In the following decade Slagle recorded several sessions for SteepleChase Records, with musicians including Tim Hagans and Ryan Kisor (trumpets), Kenny Drew Jnr. (piano), Cameron Brown (bass), and Gene Jackson (drums). Slagle also co-leads a group with Dave Stryker (guitar), and works as lead altoist and chief arranger with the Mingus Big Band.
A brilliant stylist, who also plays soprano saxophone and clarinet, Slagle’s work indicates his abiding interest on the transitional music that followed hard bop into free jazz, although he is at his considerable best when he underpins these latter-day forms with the essence of the blues. His striking technical mastery of his instruments is always evident but it is never used for its own sake. Although adept on all the instruments in his arsenal, Slagle is perhaps must interesting on alto, where his sinuous solo lines create a musical atmosphere that is both demanding and compelling in its intensity.