Jaleel Shaw

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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.

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