Jan 15, 2015


Alumni Spotlight: Jaleel Shaw '92

“When I was in third grade at Greene Street Friends, I never knew it would go this far," reflects saxophonist Jaleel Shaw ’92. Jaleel’s playing has taken him far – all over the world –and the New Jersey resident continues to make a name for himself as a jazz musician in New York City and abroad.  Last year he was named the winner in the Rising Star Alto Saxophone category of the 2014 Downbeat Critics Polls.

After graduating from Greene Street Friends, Jaleel attended the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) and George Washington High School. He then received a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating in 2000 with a dual degree in music education and performance. In May 2002 he obtained a master’s degree in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. It was around this time that he began playing with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, and the Village Vanguard Orchestra.

His debut CD, Perspective, was released in June 2005 to critical acclaim. In 2008, Jaleel launched his own record label - Changu Records, on which he released his second CD – Optimism. In the summer of 2008, Jaleel was nominated as one of the “Up and Coming Jazz Musicians of the Year” by the Jazz Journalist Association. Today Jaleel continues to perform with a variety of groups including The Roy Haynes Quartet and the Mingus Big Band as well as with his own quartet and quintet. His latest album, The Soundtrack of Things to Come (March 2013), is a compilation of original compositions. In the summer of 2014 Jaleel toured with his own quartet, Tom Harrell’s Colors of a Dream Band, Terri Lyne Carrington’s Money Jungle Band, The Cookers, and with the Roy Haynes Quartet.

Jaleel’s Greene Street Friends education prepared him well for his life as a musician. “As a child, Greene Street Friends provided me with a culturally diverse environment in which to grow and learn that was extremely important in forming me as a musician,” he notes. “Now that I tour and travel the world, I realize how important that foundation was in my being able to relate to other cultures, religions, and people. At Greene Street Friends, I had small, diverse, intimate classes that ensured we all understood what we were being taught and interacted with each other. They also enabled me to be friends and grow with amazing people, some of whom I still keep in touch with today.

More about Jaleel: check out his music on his website.