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(Published: May 25, 2013)

With the March 12, 2013 release of The Soundtrack Of Things To Come (Changu Records CR002), Jaleel Shaw premiered 10 compositions inspired by works of art and recent life experiences both sad and joyous with a compelling and highly personal musical statement soldifying his standing as one of the leading saxophonists, composers and bandleaders of his generation. Hailed internationally for his work performing and touring both as a leader and as a long-standing member of the Roy Haynes Quartet (since 2005) and the Mingus Big Band (since 2000), Shaw is heard here at the helm of his current quartet featuring pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Boris Koslov and drummer Johnathan Blake. Their playing on the recording conveys the cohesion and eloquence they have developed working as a unit since the saxophonist formed the band in 2011.

Some of the music on The Soundtrack Of Things To Come was written after the Rubin and Brooklyn Museums in New York commissioned Shaw in 2010 to compose music based on artwork in their collections from which he selected ones whose themes were life, family and spirituality. Others were specifically composed with his new quartet in mind. "2011 proved to be a year of difficult changes for me," Shaw explains. "I lost several people in my life. Two of those changes/losses include my older cousin in a motorcycle accident and my father, whom I hadn't spoke to in years. I was extremely unprepared for these events and in many ways devastated. Usually, my compositions are based on things that have influenced me or on past experiences," he continues. "But at the end of that year, I looked at my recent compositions and found that each one spoke to every experience I'd just recently had. Not only in the emotion of the music, but in the titles as well. It was as if I'd prepared myself in advance for what was to come which ultimately led to the title I chose for my third album."

Shaw opens the recording with "I Wish I Didn't Know," a tour-de-force conveying the range of emotions he experienced in 2011. This is followed by "Conclusions," whose darting tempos take full advantage of the intuitive qualities he values in the members of his quartet...pianist Fields' deft touch whether comping or soloing; the sensitivty of Koslov, the bassist and music director of the Mingus Big Band with whom Shaw has played for more than a decade; and the ability of drummer Blake, a long-time friend and musical collaborator, to understand Shaw's concept of playing and dynamics which he's honed over more than 20 years of playing with the saxophonist. This level of empathy is evident throughout The Soundtrack Of Things To Come whether the musicians are expressing and improvising on the circular theme of "The Wheel Of Life," inspired by a cloth painting by that name in the Rubin Museum illustrating the Buddhist doctrine The Four Truths; on "Ballerina," inspired by the grace, passion, warmth, perserverance and patience of a dancer Shaw saw perform solo on television; or on "Song For Sid," a tribute to pianist Sid Simmons, a major professional and personal influence on, inspiration to and source of encouragement for Shaw when he was a young, up-and-coming saxophonist on Philadelphia's jazz scene.


Alto and soprano saxophonist Jaleel Shaw has been a member of the Roy Haynes Quartet since 2005 and the Mingus Big Band which he joined in 2000 two months after moving to New York City where he still resides. In addition to touring internationally with those bands he has also performed with Christian McBride, Jason Moran, Stefon Harris, Roy Hargrove, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jimmy Cobb, among many others. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Shaw was constantly surrounded by music growing up. He picked up the alto saxophone when he was nine and joined a youth jazz band directed by jazz educator Lovette Hines a year later. In addition to performing with Hines' band for nearly six years, Shaw also immersed himself in the local jazz scene, studying and performing with many of the talented musicians that city has historically produced.

After graduating from high school, he received a full tuition scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston from which he received a dual degree in Music Education and Performance in 2000. While at Berklee, Shaw received the Billboard Endowed Scholarship for Outstanding Academic and Musical achievement (1998), two Woodwind Deptartment Chair Awards, The Outstanding Student Teacher Award and The Boston Jazz Society Award (1999). Shaw then received a scholarship to attend the Manhattan School of Music in New York from which he received his Masters in Jazz Performance in May 2002.

Shaw's first recording, Perspective (2005), received rave reviews from Jazzwise Magazine and The New York Times and was named one of the top five debut CD's of 2005 by All About Jazz and Jazzwise and was the recipient that year of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award for his composition "The Heavyweight Champion" featured on that album. In 2006, the year after he joined the Roy Haynes Quartet, Shaw was featured on the legendary drunner's Grammy-nominated CD Whereas.

In 2008 Shaw founded his label Changu Records on which he released his second album, Optimism, which received glowing reviews from The New York Times, Downbeat and All About Jazz among other publications, was programmed on more than 100 stations in the U.S. and Canada and spent several weeks on both the JazzWeek and CMJ jazz album charts. That year he received a second ASCAP Young Composer Award for the composition "The Flipside" heard on that CD and was also nominated for the Jazz Journalist Association's "Up & Coming Jazz Artist" award. In 2011 he was listed in JazzTimes Magazine's Readers Poll for Alto Saxophonist of the Year along with Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Bunky Green and Kenny Garrett.

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