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Album Review

A potent alto saxophonist who previously played with Either/Orchestra and the Mingus Big Band, Jaleel Shaw's second CD as a leader focuses mostly on his own compositions. His top-notch band includes pianist Robert Glasper, guitarist Lage Lund, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Johnathan Blake. "Flipside" is a strong opener, a turbulent post-bop vehicle that inspires everyone in the group. "Almost" is a haunting ballad (co-written with Lund), while his loping "In 3" has a melancholy air. The leader's two-part suite has a dreamy quality: "Muna's Sleeping" is a lush ballad featuring his floating, lyrical alto with Glasper playing both piano and Fender Rhodes, then "Muna's Dream" is a bit more abstract, with spacy electronic effects behind his straight-ahead solo. Shaw works magic with standards as well. "If I'm Lucky" has been recorded mostly by singers (though it pops up as a jazz instrumental on occasion), Shaw's understated arrangement brings out the song's wistful air; the piano is omitted, and Lund's spacious accompaniment will appeal to fans of Jim Hall and Ed Bickert. Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" is performed so often that it is a challenge to take a fresh approach, but Shaw's chart alters the accompaniment just a bit and also adds trumpeter Jeremy Pelt as a guest.

Customer Reviews


Lovely tone! For those of us who mostly get a chance to hear Jaleel with Roy Haynes, it's great to hear him as a leader. His compositions and playing are great! Jazz is alive and well!

Great CD !

For those that seek a group of refreshing voices on the Jazz scene...look no further than "Optimism" !! Bravo !

You'll be hearing more from Jaleel

This cat can play. First heard him in Newport this summer with Roy Haynes. A couple of weeks later he's jammin' at a local Hartford jazz club. The next week he is playing Tanglewood in MA with the Dave Holland Octet. The album is excellent. Jaleel shows off not only is chops on alto, but his considerable abilities as a composer. Robert Glasper and Lage Lund (another player showing up everywhere) do a fine job in Shaw's ensemble as well. Highly recommended.

Optimism, Jaleel Shaw
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 2008

Customer Ratings