(Mack Avenue Records)
March 15, 2011

Listening to Timeline, the latest album by the Yellowjackets, it’s hard to believe that this marks their 21st album and their 30th year together as a band. Although some of the faces have changed over the years, the quality and consistency of their music remains the same. That consistency is what has lead to their continued success and longevity. This album is also the first release for the Yellowjackes on the respected jazz label, Mack Avenue Records.

Timeline represents more than just an album title. It’s also a reflection of where the Yellowjackets, one of the most esteemed bands in jazz, have been musically and where this eclectic, electro-acoustic band is today. Timeline features two of the original Yellowjackets members, keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip, as well as long-time member, Bob Mintzer on saxophone and bass clarinet. Rounding out the personnel is drummer, Will Kennedy, who returns to the group after a 12-year hiatus.

Interestingly, the group’s name, which was chosen from a list of names written down on a piece of paper, perfectly describes the essence of this band and recounts something lively and energetic which is experienced through their music. The one thing that really stands out on this album is that every instrument can be heard clearly and distinctly, even while someone may be leading. It’s like a great recipe that has a few simple ingredients and no fillers.

The upbeat and energetic opening track “Why Is It” is a good example of this. The track gives a taste of each instrument and each players ability to use the instrument to its greatest potential. The frenzied play of Mintzer’s sax gives the illusion of a swarm of bees or yellowjackets in flight.

“Tenacity,” which features John Daversa on the trumpet, finds both Mintzer’s sax and Daversa’s trumpet playing a chorus in tandem. The title track, “Timeline,” starts out standing very familiar, and nostalgic but as the track plays on it begins to take on a slightly more progressive tone. The warm “Magnolia,” features Robben Ford on guitar. Ford’s guitar wah’s and bends with each lick giving the track a distinctive down-home, blues vibe.

There’s something quite nice about the track “Like Elvin” which again features the playful riffs of Mintzer’s sax and John Daversa’s trumpet, as well as a solo of Haslip on bass. The beautiful, yet moody and contemplative “My Soliloquy” brings the energy down a notch as the alto sax takes the listener to a point of retrospection and inflection. The album concludes with the romantic “I Do” which is sure to be a wedding favorite for years to come.

Timeline encompasses all of the elements that The Yellowjackets themselves embody. It’s classic, while still remaining fresh. The Yellowjackets have shown that it pays to stay true to oneself and to the music, which is something they always seemingly do and do well. After all, they’ve been doing this for 30 years, which proves that they must be doing something right.

For more information: http://www.mackavenue.com/artists/detail/yellowjackets

Words by Terri Neal


1 Replies to "Yellowjackets Timeline"
Andy says:
March 31, 2011 at 8:15 am

Great vids – thanks for the upload, hadn’t heard before.

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