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

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

The Flipside

The Flipside

Jaleel Shaw
Optimism

Interviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
The Soundtrack of Things to Come

The Soundtrack of...

Changu Records
2013

buy
Optimism

Optimism

Changu Records
2008

buy
Perspective

Perspective

Fresh Sound New Talent
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Hidden Corners Album Reviews
Hidden Corners
By Dan McClenaghan
June 18, 2019
Read Special Album Reviews
Special
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 18, 2019
Read Land Of Real Men Album Reviews
Land Of Real Men
By Friedrich Kunzmann
June 18, 2019
Read The Long Game Album Reviews
The Long Game
By Roger Farbey
June 18, 2019
Read LP1 Album Reviews
LP1
By Dan Bilawsky
June 17, 2019
Read The Garden Of Earthly Delights Album Reviews
The Garden Of Earthly Delights
By Friedrich Kunzmann
June 17, 2019
Read Groove Machine Album Reviews
Groove Machine
By Don Phipps
June 17, 2019