Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Sager, David, trombonist, historian; b. Takoma Park, Maryland, 22 March 1958. His parents are Beverly Stevens (b. 1927) and Robert Sager (b. 1926). His siblings are Steven Sager (b. 1951) and Barry Sager (b. 1954). His maternal grandmother, Edith Brusiloff Dorfman (b. 1907 d. 1995) was a popular local (Washington D.C.) pianist and entertainer. Her two brothers Leon and Nat Brusiloff were eminent conductors and violinists. Leon was well known in D.C. as the conductor of the Loews' Columbia Theater and The Fox Theater. Nat was well known in New York and nationally as a radio conductor and was Kate Smith's first musical director.
David has been interested in Jazz and Big Band music at the age of 9. Also fascinated with early cylinder and disc phonographs. Today has a collection of early machines and records. Began studying trombone at age 9 with Robert Isele, solo trombonist with The U.S. Marine Band 1940s and 50s, later with National Symphony Orchestra). Among David's trombone instructors were James Schrodt, Robert Tennyson and John Marcellus. Early influences in jazz included trombonists Tommy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, J.C. Higginbotham, Bill Watrous, Urbie Green and Miff Mole. David began playing professionally in 1975 with a group in Washington, D.C. called The New Sunshine Jazz Band. This group played ragtime and early jazz using old stock orchestrations as a point of departure. Began Music Ed studies at Ithaca College in the Fall of 1976. There he studied trombone with Allen Ostrander (former bass trombonist with The New York Philharmonic and The NBC Symphony) and played in the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble under guitarist Steve Brown. Transferred to Towson State University in the fall of 1978. Played in the TSU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of composer/arranger Hank Levy. Studied trombone at TSU with John Melick (former w/Sauter-Fineagan Orch, staff at ABC and principal Baltimore Symphony). While at Towson studied arranging and composition with Dr. Asher Zlotnik (formerly of the Peabody School of Music). Relocated to New Orleans in the spring of 1983. Performed aboard The Steamer Natchez with Wes Mix and the West End Jazz Band (1983-1985). Joined Banu Gibson and New Orleans Hot Jazz in 1985. Performances and tours throughout U.S. and Europe including The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Oslo Jazz Festival, The St. Louis Ragtime Festival. Played numerous Symphony "Pops" concerts with Banu and NOHJ including The Boston Pops, St. Louis Symphony and Cincinati Pops. While in New Orleans freelanced with local jazz groups. Worked with Preservation Hall, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt and others. In 1991 David met his future wife Natalie Monteleone at a musical performance in New Orleans, Natalie also being a Maryland native. In 1995 they both returned to their home state where David began working in the Recorded Sound section of the Library of Congress' Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division. David and Natalie married in November of 1997. In addition to working for the Library of Congress David set up a teaching studio at his home where he teaches primarily middle and high school age trombone students. David also began some scholarly pursuits including working towards a Masters in Jazz History and Research through Rutgers University. Through his association with this program David was asked to contribute to The Cambridge Companion to Jazz and Current Musicology. In January of 2004 David became the music director of The Washington Conservatory of Music Traditional Jazz Band. This group, made up of top flight D.C/Baltimore jazz musicians is co supported by The Washington Conservatory of Music and the Potomac River Jazz Club. David has appeared at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Oslo Jazz Festival, The Ascona New Orleans Jazz Festival and many others. He's played in the Roof Garden Jass Band, a New York based quintet dedicated to performing the music of the pioneering jazz bands on record (1998 to present). They've played various Jazz Festivals and concerts. He's also performed with Woody Allen's Jazz Band at The Jazz Bakery, August 2001. Mannasas Jazz Festival 1987 with Milt Hinton, Wild Bill Davison, Art Hodes, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber, Dick Hyman and others and "Jazz in July" under the direction of Dick Hyman at the New York 92nd Street YMCA's "Jazz in July", 1999, 2000 and 2001.
The Fearless Orchestra (David Sager): A group of Cylinder recordings made at The Edison National Historic Site (2001)
The New Sunshine Jazz Band (Tony Hagert): Too Much Mustard (1976); Banu Gibson and the New Orleans Hot Jazz Orchestra: Spreading Rhythm Around (1986); Bob Wilber, Danny Barker, Freddie Kohlman etc: Dancing on a Rainbow (1989); Silver Leaf Jazz Band (Chris Tyle): Streets and Scenes of New Orleans; Hal Smith-Chris Tyle Frisco Syncopators: Milneburg Joys (1989); Bob Wilber: Bix-The Interpretation of a Legend (Film Soundtrack) (1990); Dan Levinson's Roof Garden Jass Band: Tribute to the ODJB and the Beginnings of Recorded Jazz, Blue Roses of Far and Near (2000), Echoes In the Wax" (2002); Banu Gibson: Love Is Good For Anything That Ails You, You Don't Know My Mind, Let Yourself Go; Branford Marsalis: I Heard You Twice the First Time; The Chenille Sisters and James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band: What'cha Gonna Swing Tonight?; The Hotel Edison Roof Orchesta (John Otto-Vince Giordano): Breakaway
His life and career was profiled in The Mississippi Rag (traditional jazz monthly), December 2002.
Works by Sager:
"Of Ear, Heart and Arm: A Tale of the Slide Trombone in Early Jazz" Second Line (New Orleans. Jazz Club monthly), June 1984.
"History, Myth and Legend: The Problem of Early Jazz" The Cambridge Companion to Jazz, 2003.
Review of Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contributions to Jazz, 1915-1945 by
Richard M. Sudhalter. Current Musicology, Spring 2002
An Ellington Trombone Scrapbook - Musical performance saluting the famous Ellington trombonists of the 1930s and 40s. Performed for the International Duke Ellington Society Meeting at the Library of Congress for the Centennial of Ellington's birth.
Of Ear Heart and Arm - Lecture/recital on the evolution of the trombone in jazz up to 1940. Given at the annual meeting of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors (New Orleans, 1991).
100 Years of the Trombone on Record - Talk with historic music excerpts given for the Washington D.C. chapter of the Association of Recorded Sound Collections (December 1996).
Nat Brusiloff, Broadcast Pioneer - A talk given at The ARSC International Conference on the 1930s radio conductor and violinist. This included clips of early sound films and radio broadcasts (Philadelphia, May 2003).
9062 Old Scaggsville Rd.
Laurel, MD 20723