201

Yellowjackets: Timeline

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Yellowjackets: Timeline 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 Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read The Late Trane CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Around The Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Around The Horn
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Insufficient Funs" CD/LP/Track Review Insufficient Funs
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Traffic" CD/LP/Track Review Traffic
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "Stinger" CD/LP/Track Review Stinger
by Joe Gatto
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Life" CD/LP/Track Review Life
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 16, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.