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Jaleel Shaw: The Soundtrack of Things to Come

Mark F. Turner By

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Jaleel Shaw is one of the fiercest saxophonists to come out of Philadelphia; the city that has produced its share of music luminaries, such as pianist McCoy Tyner and bassist Stanley Clarke. Full of urgency, Jaleel Shaw channels his horn through music that's tinged with the sound of blues and gospel, soul music and streetwise hustle, as witnessed in performances with The Roy Haynes Quartet or as part of fellow Philly-native pianist Orrin Evans' energetic Captain Black Big Band and others.

Inspired by works of art and moving personal life experiences The Soundtrack of Things to Come is Shaw's heartfelt music expression through ten original compositions delivered by a strong quartet that has performed together since 2011. Each piece tells its own story beginning with "I Wish I Didn't Know," where Shaw's horn speaks of melancholy and asks probing questions as the band artfully maneuvers the theme's swinging tempo. It's followed by whirlwind changes in "Conclusions," where bassist Boris Kozlov lays down a groovy vamp that's propelled by sizzling drummer Johnathan Blake and fully exploited via passionate solos from Shaw and pianist Lawrence Fields.

Among center of the well-placed ballads and cookers lies "The Wheel of Life," which was inspired by the cloth painting found in New York's Rubin Museum of Art and illustrates the Buddhist doctrine—The Four Truths. Its spiralling turns contain everything from an Irish-like theme, stirring feats of improvisational changes and exhilarating group collaboration. Other notable pieces include the sweet but abrupt groove, called "The Understanding," which features a Robert Glasper/J-Dilla-esque vibe and the set closer "Faith." The piece unfolds with a serene reverence as Fields perfectly accents chords before Shaw opens the flood gates, his horn fervently preaching the gospel message. It's a fitting conclusion to an enjoyable release.

Track Listing: I Wish I Didn't Know; Conclusions; Ballerina; The Wheel Of Life; The Understanding; Chroma; Sister; Leel's Tune; Song For Sid; Faith.

Personnel: Jaleel Shaw: saxophones; Lawrence Fields: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Title: The Soundtrack of Things to Come | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Changu Records

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