Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

201

Yellowjackets: Timeline

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Timeline is Yellowjackets' 21st album, in a career spanning 30 years—an impressive return, and an indication of the group's enduring appeal and continued motivation and commitment to making music. As ever, there are signs of evolution, with the addition of trumpet widening the sonic palette. However, pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante's sparing use of synthesizer— which has given an orchestral depth to much of the group's music over the years—and saxophonist Bob Mintzer's switch from EWI to bass clarinet, steers the music as close to acoustic jazz as it's ever been.

The drummer's door revolves once more, with Marcus Baylor ending a ten-year stint with the band to be replaced by Will Kennedy, who first held that position from ' 87 to '98 . A guest appearance by original Yellowjacket guitarist, Robben Ford, adds to the celebration, but there's a stronger sense of "business as usual" here, and Timeline sounds instantly recognizable as classic Yellowjackets: melodious; well-crafted compositions; beautiful balladry; and fine individual and collective playing.

Stylistic diversity has always characterized Yellowjackets' music and Timeline is no exception. "What is It" lays down a grooving beat, over which Mintzer overlays tenor sax and bass clarinet, while Ferrante's electric piano has the percussive bite of a vibraphone. The cheery head could almost have come from a late '70s Weather Report album. There's a fair quota of bop-inspired playing, particularly on "Tenacity," which features a fine piano solo and short but thrilling drum break. This track and the Elvin Jones-inspired swing of "Like Elvin" feature a first for the Yellowjackets in the trumpet of John Diversa, who brings warmth to the unison lines, though a solo would have stirred things up a tad more.

Kennedy's "Rosemary" provides arresting contrast between polyrhythmic bustle and core lyricism, and is a showcase for Mintzer's quite personal tenor voice. The history of the band could perhaps be divided into before-and-after-Mintzer, as the saxophonist /composer has helped shape Yellowjackets' music to a significant degree since coming onboard twenty years ago. Warm lyricism also defines the title track—though the band shifts up a couple of gears towards the end in a stirring finale, which fades out teasingly—while the a slow burning funk/R&B of Ferrante's "Magnolia," co-written with Yellowjackets co-founder/bassist Jimmy Haslip, features Ford's bluesy wah-wah contortions.

When the dust settles, however, this album will perhaps be remembered for the quality of the ballads. The melodic tenor saxophone intro to "My Soliloquy" is gorgeous, and Mintzer evokes the bluesy melanchoy of saxophonist John Coltrane at his most pensive. Ferrante's solo is no less impressive for its emotive impact and succinctness. Ferrante's "Indivisible" has a stylish classical air, while this fine set closes with the achingly beautiful "I Do," which surely deserves lyrics to crown its innate poetry.

The energy and creativity sparked by the quartet's interaction, honed over three decades now, results in one of Yellowjackets' finest albums, and it sounds like that there is plenty of gas left in the tank.

Track Listing: Why is It; Tenacity; Rosemary; Timeline; Magnolia; A Single Step; Indivisible; Like Elvin; My Soliloquy; Numerology; I Do.

Personnel: Russell Ferrante: piano, keyboards; Jimmy Haslip: bass; Bob Mintzer: saxophones, bass clarinet; Will Kennedy: drums, keyboards; Robben Ford; guitar (5); John Daversa: trumpet (2, 8).

Title: Timeline | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Kingdom" CD/LP/Track Review Kingdom
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 20, 2017
Read "Marseille" CD/LP/Track Review Marseille
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Energy - Saul Losada" CD/LP/Track Review Energy - Saul Losada
by Paul Naser
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Tangled" CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Donora Autumn" CD/LP/Track Review Donora Autumn
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 29, 2017