A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Non Such Photography

“A bright, robust energy suffuses the playing of Jaleel Shaw”, writes Nate Chinen in The New York Times. “Mr. Shaw has a purposeful but uncomplicated relationship with the postbop tradition — he isn’t out to reinvent the wheel, just spin it as he pleases.”

The saxophonist was born and raised in Philadelphia. He absorbed the city’s rich musical heritage, and the omnivorous leanings of it’s artists; in an interview with The Revivalist, Jaleel recalls:

The great thing about coming up in Philly is that everyone was open musically. You could play with a straight ahead player one day and the next day go do a avant-garde gig, or a hip hop gig. It was all love and everyone knew and supported each other. I think it’s great that I grew up in an environment that included such a diverse group of musicians.

After cutting his teeth on local bandstands and training under Philly educators such as Rayburn Wright, Robert Landham, and Lovette Hines, Jaleel moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. It wasn’t long before he relocated again to New York, this time to pursue a masters’ degree at the Manhattan School of Music. While still a student, Jaleel was approached by two of jazz’s premier big bands: the Mingus Big Band and the Count Basie Orchestra. He went on to contribute to two of the Mingus Big Band’s Grammy-nominated albums, Tonight at Noon and I Am Three.

Upon graduating, Jaleel began to make advances as a bandleader while continuing to work with numerous artists in New York and beyond. His debut album, Perspective, was self-released in 2005 and received strong acclaim from publications including The New York Times and JazzWise. His sophomore effort, 2008’s Optimism, saw a similarly strong reception from the Times, OkayPlayer, and AllMusic, among others. In the wake of this release, The Jazz Journalists Association recognized Jaleel as one of the “Up and Coming Musicians of 2008”; he has subsequently been heralded as a contender for Alto Saxophonist of the Year by JazzTimes (readers’ poll).

Also in 2005, Jaleel was asked to join Roy Haynes‘ band, a group which he continues to perform with today. The ensemble received a Grammy nomination for their album Whereas (Dreyfus), and performs frequently around the globe.

Jaleel has been performing at The Gallery as both a leader and a sideperson for many years; on Friday night, he returns to our stage with his quartet (which includes the pianist Lawrence Fields, the bassist Boris Kozlov, and the drummer EJ Strickland).

About a week ago, Jaleel tweeted this link to a 2011 live recording of his quartet’s performance of “Heavyweight Champion.” You can download it here.