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|Yellowjackets 'Timeline' To Be Released March 15
In music, time flies, styles unstoppably evolve, and bands come and go. But there are also rare stable, forward-moving forces on the scene, one prime example in jazz being the Yellowjackets. As of 2011, this beloved eclectic, electro-acoustic jazz band that keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip built celebrates the ripe young, deep age of 30, a milestone commemorated with another powerful and heartfelt album, fittingly named Timeline.
In fact, Timeline is a special occasion on more than just the 30th anniversary front, also being the first step in a new relationship with the respected jazz label Mack Avenue Records, and the first new album with an important alumnus back in the ranks, the dynamic and flexible drummer Will Kennedy. Kennedy, who worked with the group for ten years and appeared on half its discography to date, returns to the ranks after a dozen years away. He fits seamlessly into the band, alongside Ferrante, Haslip and the multi-talented saxophonist-composer Bob Mintzer, whose critical role in helping define the group's current sound goes back to 1991.
For longtime Yellowjackets fans, the new album arrives as a confirmation and extension of the high expectations for this band. For new listeners, it's an ideal introduction. Timeline is the band's 21st official recording not including special side projects and guest spots. The band's background gleams with various honors, including 17 Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards to show for their efforts - so far.
As Haslip explains, "We get extremely engaged with every project and we try to elevate and open things up. That's always the goal with every project. I'm not saying we always succeed. But the focus is to always try to do something that is hopefully engaging. And being that Russell, myself and the guys in the band have a certain chemistry." He adds, with a laugh, "It's not easy to accomplish this after thirty years."
For this eleven-track song set, most of the material was penned by the prolific and inspired Mintzer and Ferrante, kicking off with Mintzer's bold, boppish but propulsively-grooving "Why is It" and the snaky, syncopated and aptly-named "Tenacity," which could also be an operative descriptor for the group's m.o. Ferrante's title track is a lovely and lyrical, anthem-like piece, its melody-a sweet but also artfully thickening plot--stated first on Haslip's fretless bass and expanding into saxophone and arrangement twists. It's as if the song's emotional grounding and searching qualities tell the tale of this band, to date.
Musically, the terrain on Timeline is characteristically diverse but also cohesive, melodically accessible and also gently experimental, in keeping with the Jackets' concept for three decades. Beautiful balladry, such as Ferrante's "Indivisible" and Mintzer's "My Soliloquy," intertwine with modern-day variations on traditional swing themes, on Mintzer's "Like Elvin" (also one of the songs featuring a new sound for the band, guest trumpeter John Diversa) and Ferrante's "Numerology." Kennedy's one composition, "Rosemary," explores an inventive rhythmic-melodic feel, with its lyrical balladic melody laying atop an exotic drum groove.
And roughly in the middle of it all comes the slinky-funky Ferrante-Haslip tune "Magnolia," originally written during the time of the 2008 album Lifecycle, but coming fully to light here. And as it happens, that song becomes a great vehicle for another strong historical linkage in the band's history, as guitarist Robben Ford makes a rare cameo on record, with a spicy wah-wah-fied guitar solo. This is Ford's first appearance on a Yellowjackets album since 1994's Run For Your Life, engaging in easy dialogue with the band he half-accidentally launched.
Yellowjackets, as a unit, was actually assembled for Ford's popular 1978 album Inside Story. Remembering back to the Inside Story project, Haslip laughs "I wasn't even thirty years old when we did that. I think I was 26 or 27.
About a year later, in 1980 we got a deal with Warner, through Tommy Lipuma, to do an instrumental record! That was a really exciting moment, to actually realize that we had been signed by a major record label to do an instrumental project. Our first recording, Yellowjackets, was released in 1981."
And from those humble, auspicious and unforced beginnings grew the long and ongoing saga of one of jazz' most long-lasting bands. Another early blast of affirmation came after they received a Grammy nomination for that 1981 debut album. "We never thought that could happen," Haslip recalls. "We didn't win, but just having a nomination was certainly a boost, a shot in the arm."
Multiple chapters and subplots have wended through the band's history, including the presence of more R&B-geared alto saxophonist Marc Russo for most of the '80s, before Mintzer's jazzier voice shifted the stylistic balance. Drummers have included Peter Erskine, for a brief and unfortunately unrecorded incarnation, a happy decade long stretch with Marcus Baylor, and Kennedy, then, now and into the future.
All along, the band has mastered the art of being both accessible and adventurous, with strong grooves and melodies blended in with surprising twists. Calling them a "fusion" band doesn't do the project justice. Haslip comments, "I think it's just how we're wired. We are very passionate about the music, obviously, and I we love to listen to everything. It motivates us in many ways. And with that motivation, we are also creatively inspired to continue our progression."
All in all, Timeline is another significant link in the strong historical chain of this band's story. Haslip notes that "We have a legacy that follows us around, going on thirty years now, which is self-propelled at this point and fuels our motivation and honorable intent to create music. But at the same time, it takes patience, hard work and nurturing.”
Listen to an exclusive streaming track from the album.
Yellowjackets • Timeline
Release Date: March 15, 2011
For more information on the Yellowjackets, visit www.yellowjackets.com.
For media information, please contact:
DL Media • 610-667-0501
Jordy Freed • firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Neben • Axis Artist Management, Inc.
"Like" Mack Avenue Records on Facebook
For press materials on the Yellowjackets, Mack Avenue artists or
Mack Avenue Record labels in general (including album covers, promotional
photos and logos), please visit: http://media.mackavenue.com/
MACK AVENUE • the road to great music • www.mackavenue.com
19900 Harper Avenue, Harper Woods, MI 48225 • 313-640-8414 • 313-640-8415 fax
|Yellowjackets Sign with Mack Avenue Records
||Yellowjackets Sign with Mack Avenue Records
Announced at the 2010 Detroit International Jazz Festival
Mack Avenue Records is proud to announce the signing of Grammy® award winning jazz group, the Yellowjackets. The signing was made official at the 2010 Detroit International Jazz Festival, where the group headlined on the Carhartt Amphitheatre Stage.
Comprised of saxophonist Bob Mintzer, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Will Kennedy (who was a member of the group from 1986-1998 and returned this year), the group joins the Mack Avenue family during its 30th anniversary of making music.
"It certainly feels like a lifelong gift to have accomplished this milestone in one's vast career. I am both honored and humbled by it," reflects Haslip, who is a founding member of the group with Ferrante. "We are very pleased and very proud to be signed to Mack Avenue."
"The Yellowjackets represent the highest standard of contemporary jazz, with a distinguished track record and influence on the music," says Mack Avenue Records President Denny Stilwell. "We look forward to documenting the next chapter of their career on Mack Avenue."
The group's forthcoming debut for the label is set for release in 2011 and will celebrate the 30th anniversary with a special guest appearance by the group's founder, guitarist Robben Ford (whose last appearance with the group was on the 1994 GRP effort, Run For Your Life). "I am really happy to have him on this 30th anniversary recording. Robben is the perfect guest for this project. We are honored to have him on board and grateful to him for all the years of friendship and support," states Haslip.
Known for their unique signatures that shine through regardless of their musical setting- whether it be blistering-hot fusion, gospel, or full-blown acoustic jazz- the Yellowjackets have released 20 albums on four record labels (Warner Brothers, MCA, GRP and Heads Up), with 17 Grammy® nominations and two wins.
Photo above: The Mack Avenue Records team welcomes the Yellowjackets at the 2010 Detroit International Jazz Festival. (L-R): Tom Robinson, CEO; Gretchen Valade, Chair; Denny Stilwell, President; Jeff Neben, Axis Management/Yellowjackets Manager; Russell Ferrante; Bob Mintzer; Will Kennedy; Jimmy Haslip; Al Pryor, EVP of A&R. Credit: Len Katz.
For upcoming Yellowjackets performances as well as
additional resources, please visit yellowjackets.com
For media information, please contact:
DL Media · 610-667-0501
Don Lucoff · email@example.com
MACK AVENUE · the road to great music · mackavenue.com
19900 Harper Avenue, Harper Woods, MI 48225 · 313-640-8414 · 313-640-8415 fax
|Bob Mintzer and Russ Ferrante Fundraiser Performance
“And All That Jazz” – Coming March 6, 2010
“And All That Jazz,” an evening of celebrated Hollywood movie music featuring Bob Mintzer and Russell Ferrante of the world famous jazz quartet “Yellowjackets” will premiere at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Studio City on Saturday, March 6, 2010. Mintzer said that he and his musical partner Russ Ferrante are collaborating to present an original duo adaptation of the music made famous on Hollywood soundtracks. Jazz art by Melissa Lambert will also be on display. This evening is part of the ongoing music series at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Refreshments and bar opens and pre-concert refreshments are served at 6:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall and the concert follows at 7:30 p.m.
All money raised by the concert will be used to fund the many programs and activities of the UUCSC.
Bob Mintzer (sax, clarinet, flute, bass clarinet, and the electronic wind instrument the Akai EWI) is a composer, arranger, leader of a Grammy-winning big band, member of the Yellowjackets, and an educator. His "Rhythm of the Americas " premiered in 2001 by the American Saxophone Quartet and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He has recorded with a large number of musicians including Steve Winwood, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, and Queen. Mintzer toured with Buddy Rich, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, and Eddie Palmieri. He has also worked with the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theatre. He was on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music and currently is a member of the faculty at USC in Los Angeles . Bob and his wife Carla Poole are regulars at UUCSC.
Russell Ferrante (piano) is a producer, teacher, composer, and an original member of the Yellowjackets at its founding in 1977. Along with Bob Mintzer, Russ is also a faculty member at USC in Los Angeles and he teaches at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood . Among the many artists with whom Russ has worked, produced, and written are Al Jarreau, Ernie Watts, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jim Pepper, Joe Farrell, Joni Mitchell, Bobby McFerrin, Sadao Watanabe, Lee Ritenour, Tom Scott, Take 6, Michael Franks, Eric Marienthal, and Brenda Russell. Russ and his wife Gerry are both actively involved in organizations that raise money for the needs of the homeless.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City has been in operation for over 60 years and has more than 120 members. It works to encourage the Unitarian Universalist values of self-respect, search for meaning, spirituality, creativity, respect for others and the world around us through shared activities that promote enthusiasm and joy.
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Contact Gene Herd 818-997-3007 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanne McConnell 818-788-1932 email@example.com
|ALTERED STATE Notes
||Fans often ask Yellowjackets "how do you write, or create your music." ALTERED STATE is a complex album, with many twists and turns of Yellowjackets style. Russ Ferrante has prepared a track by track description of the process that went into the making of ALTERED STATE.
|Yellowjackets Celebrate 25th Anniversary
||Celebrating 25 years as a group, Yellowjackets and Heads Up International are releasing a new CD/DVD packaged called "Yellowjackets Twenty-Five". Read the official press release here!
||Yellowjackets have finally recorded a Christmast album. We sincerely hope you'll enjoy our recordings of these beautiful Christmas standards and from our families to yours, a heartfelt wish for peace in this and all seasons.
|Mint Jam 'Liner Notes'
||Complete "liner notes" for Mint Jam, which include a track-by-track description of each song by Russell. Each song title links to a brief MP3 sound clip from the Mint Jam CD!
|Mix Magazine Interview
||Mix Magazine, Professional Audio and Music Production in -depth interview with Yellowjackets.
||Jazz Dimensions interview first published in German language in "Jazzpodium", issue date 7/8/2002.
|The BuzZ, Vol. 3 No. 1
||The BuzZ Newsletter's third volume, which describes the music and equipment for the Club Nocturne album.