Jazz to this reviewer is both a discipline and an art form. It can be done horribly wrong or oh-so right. Jaleel Shaw provides a wonderful example of how jazz is done right. He is the real deal. The Philadelphia-based and Grammy nominated alto saxophonist delivers a level of maturity and awareness on his second release as a leader that harkens to his long standing tenure with the Mingus Big Band. The band here reaches back to the archives that defined the genre, with Lage Lund on the guitar, Robert Glasper on the piano, Joe Martin on the bass, Jonathan Blake on percussion and Jeremey Pelt supporting Shaw on the trumpet and flugehorn. Optimism is a deep contribution to jazz. High-points are the opening track, "Flipside," with vague references to Thelonious Monks' "Straight, No Chaser" and the woven tapestry, "The Struggle," with its homage to the soprano sax work of John Coltrane himself. If you like the jazz classics, you'll love this album. -- Daniel Graeber

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