Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

261

Jaleel Shaw: Optimism

By

Sign in to view read count
Jaleel Shaw has been a member of the Roy Haynes Quartet since 2005 and his playing reflects the kind of smart professionalism and driving energy that has always been evident in the drummer's work. Shaw recorded his first disc in 2004 and he's back with an album that suggests growth and mature diversity. He's fortunate enough to have an old colleague, pianist Robert Glasper, as well as a handful of bright lights in the modern jazz arena.

Shaw is not your cookie-cutter post bopper—he sounds like no one, really, but himself—and he writes tunes that show his compositional approach is also independent. The vocabulary of the tradition is familiar and yet this doesn't sound like a rehash of a hundred other albums. The use of the Fender Rhodes on several tracks suggests the popular vernacular but the music on those tracks tells us that 'popular' is not necessarily bad.

Particularly engaging, for example, is the waltz, "In 3." Here it's alto, guitar, bass and drums and the sound is quietly impressionistic with Lage Lund adding especially lovely colors on guitar. It's a song about texture and emotion and the restraint of the players is particularly engaging.

The title track is a pulsing, driving number that somehow also evokes intelligent contemplation. The impressive thing about Shaw's playing is that it never seems to knock a listener out with volume or power. So this tune pulls us along but not forcefully in any artificial way. And Glasper is especially sensitive on the electric keyboard as if fully understanding the feeling that the composer was seeking.

Shaw the bandleader is sensitive enough to choose a little recorded tune, "If I'm Lucky," that originally appeared on a Johnny Hartman album. It shows Shaw's gorgeous and intimate way with a ballad. Glasper chooses the Fender Rhodes again and the performance stays simple, quiet and lovely.

Optimism is a jazz album whose mood, even in up-tempos, suggests thoughtful understanding and a personal way to make a recording. And even when there are effects they work towards telling a story.

Track Listing: Flipside; Almost; In 3; Optimism; If I'm Lucky; Flight; Love for Sale; Muna's Sleeping; Muna's Dream; The Struggle; Optilude.

Personnel: Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone; Lage Lund: guitar; Robert Glasper: keyboards; Joe Martin: bass; Johnnathan Blake: drums; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet.

Title: Optimism | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Changu Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Milestones" CD/LP/Track Review Milestones
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 31, 2017
Read "Feather" CD/LP/Track Review Feather
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "The Company I Keep" CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Vit" CD/LP/Track Review Vit
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Live: SFJAZZ Center 2016 - Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions" CD/LP/Track Review Live: SFJAZZ Center 2016 - Music of Miles Davis &...
by John Kelman
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Flow" CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!