Born: 1946 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Saxophonist Larry Slezak was born in Manhattan in 1946. He gravitated to the saxophone after hearing Bill Doggett's hit recording of Honky Tonk. Growing up in New York afforded him the opportunity, while still in his teens, to hear all the great musicians live: from Armstrong to Ellington and Basie. He was drawn to the music and was working professionally by the time he was 14.
Since relocating to Houston in 1973, Slezak has mastered the entire reed instrument family and has performed in the orchestras for Johnny Mathis, Liza Minnelli, Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, and countless others. He also performs with the Houston Symphony and Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, and he teaches saxophone and applied jazz studies at Rice University, where he directs the Rice Jazz Ensembles.
Slezak brings an assured swing, a warm soulful tone, and a wealth of experience to No Worries, his first CD as a leader, which was released by Houston's Tierra Studios on November 25, 2008.
He is joined on the recording by the Larry Slezak Quartet and by his B3 Hammond Organ Band: veteran guitarist Clayton Dyess, bassist Thomas Helton, pianist and organ player José-Miguel Yamal, vocalist Sheri Lavo, and Larry’s son Joe Slezak on drums.
The band is playing the kind of music people don’t get to hear that much anymore, says Slezak, who first played with a B3 at the age of 15. Small-group jazz is to American music what the string quartet is to classical music.
There’s a big difference between being an artist and an entertainer. I don’t have any problems making the distinction that what Larry Slezak does definitely falls into the artistic category. --George Carroll of CabaretExchange.com
There are many words to describe saxophonist Larry Slezak’s debut, and two that apply are: delightful and memorable. Now that Slezak has decided to emerge from playing in a local arena to sharing his music on a national stage, making his next musical project better than this impressive beginning will truly be a challenge. -- Edward Blanco of All About Jazz
Tracks: Floatin'; Chico and the Man; No Worries; How About You?; You've Changed; Distant Harmony; Girl Talk; Wee Small Hours; Maybe By Tomorrow; Cry Me a River; Secret Love; Young and Foolish
Personnel: Larry Slezak: saxaphone. Clayton Dyess: guitar. Thomas Helton: bass. Sheri Lavo: vocals. Jose Miguel-Yamal: Hammond B3 organ. Joe Slezak: drums.
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Larry Slezak is an instructor at Rice University in Houston.