Having been praised as possessing “pristine playing, meticulous composing” and “a very personal voice deserving of attention,” award-winning guitarist, composer, and educator Denin Slage-Koch has done a lot. He’s played and recorded with artists like Ryan Keberle, Shane Endsley, Carmen Bradford, Clay Jenkins, Brad Goode, Wycliffe Gordon, and the Colorado Symphony, written music for artists like Melissa Aldana and Carmen Bradford, recorded three albums of original music and served as sideman for many more, published a book, and is a full-time member of the jazz faculty at the University of Tennessee Knoxville - and he’s not even 30 years old yet. Put simply, he is one of the most exciting and unique rising musicians on the scene today.
As a guitarist, Slage-Koch's accolades include a multiple Downbeat Student Music Awards, a 2022 Pathways to Jazz grant award, and performances at venues including the national Jazz Education Network conference, Vail Jazz, Boettcher Concert Hall, and Dazzle Denver, among many others. His debut album, “re: manhattan project,” is a ten-movement suite for jazz quintet that reimagines the story of the Manhattan Project, which Slage-Koch’s hometown of Richland, WA was deeply involved in. “re: manhattan project,” received a four-star rating on AllAboutJazz.com and has been praised as “remarkable,” “extraordinary, “moving” and containing “beautiful interplay.” His third album, "It Comes in Waves," featuring trombonist Ryan Keberle and trumpeter Shane Endsley, will be released in Fall 2023.
Slage-Koch is also frequently in-demand as a composer and arranger for artists and ensembles across the United States. In 2023, he received a Herb Alpert Young Composer's award for his piece "It Comes in Waves," and in 2022 his composition "One for Honey" was recognized as an honorable mention at the Ithaca College Jazz Composition Contest against entries from 15 countries. Slage-Koch has written and arranged for artists including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Melissa Aldana, Carmen Bradford, and the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra, among others, and maintains a consistent workload of commissions.
Slage-Koch holds a Doctor of Arts in Jazz Studies from the University of Northern Colorado, and has also received a Master of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Media from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies from Whitworth University. He has over a decade of experience as an educator. Slage-Koch's major teachers include many of the greatest musicians and educators in the world, including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gary Versace, Steve Kovalcheck, Bob Sneider, Dave Rivello, Bill Dobbins, Dan Keberle and Brent Edstrom. His music draws influence from a wide range of artists, including Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Emily Remler, Wes Montgomery, Radiohead, The Beatles, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gustav Mahler, Led Zeppelin, and more.