A Rise In The Road
Label: Mack Avenue Records
Catalog Nº: MAC-1073
Year Released: 2013
Producer(s): Ferrante, Mintzer & Kennedy
Russell Ferrante (piano, keyboards)
William Kennedy (drums, keyboards)
Bob Mintzer (saxophone)
Felix Pastorius (bass)
Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet on “Can’t We Elope”, “An Informed Decision”, “An Amber Shade of Blue”)
- When The Lady Dances (Mintzer)
- Civil War (Mintzer)
- Can’t We Elope (Ferrante)
- An Informed Decision (Ferrante)
- Longing (Ferrante)
- Thank You (Mintzer)
- Madrugada (Kennedy)
- An Amber Shade of Blue (Ferrante)
- (You’ll Know) When It’s Time (Ferrante)
- I Knew His Father (Mintzer)
A Rise In The Road, the Yellowjackets’ second Mack Avenue Records offering, is indeed an appropriate title for a time-honored jazz ensemble that has never been fearful of facing newer musical horizons, not to mention the myriad challenges of life itself. Throughout their storied 32-year history, the Yellowjackets have undergone numerous lineup changes, never failing to rise to the inevitable challenges of adjustment. Keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip, the dual cornerstones of the group’s 21 previous recordings, were responsible for a sizable chunk of the Yellowjackets’ catalogue. Yet despite those shifts, Ferrante and Haslip, along with saxophonist Bob Mintzer (23-year member) and drummer William Kennedy (14-year member, spread out between two different time periods), soldiered on with a professionalism that has resulted in 17 Grammy® nominations—with two wins—countless sold-out tours, and worldwide critical acclaim.
Last year Jimmy Haslip announced he was taking a hiatus to focus on other projects and spend more time with his family. Alas, all things must come to an end, as he has decided to make his hiatus permanent. Although his leaving is seismic within the scope of the Yellowjackets’ history—“A Rise In The Road,” if you please—change is no stranger to this consistently innovative and adaptable collective. A Rise In The Road introduces a new member—bassist Felix Pastorius—to replace Haslip. Pastorius, whose last name is widely familiar to jazz aficionados, steps in to contribute his talents to the group’s continuing sonic ventures (more on Felix Pastorius in a moment).
In 2010, the Yellowjackets signed to Mack Avenue Records and in 2011 released Timeline, which reached #5 on Billboard’s jazz chart; the title cut received substantial national jazz radio airplay, making the song a staple on Billboard’s “Smooth Jazz Songs” chart. Now the Yellowjackets unveil A Rise In The Road, a 10-track study that burnishes the group’s sterling reputation for high quality tonal explorations and ensemble execution.
Produced by Ferrante, Mintzer and Kennedy, A Rise In The Road stands shoulder-to-shoulder with their 21 previous efforts. “It’s about the challenges that people face in their lives and whatever path they are on: It’s not always smooth sailing, it’s not always a level road,” explains Ferrante, with regards to the project’s meaning. “Certainly, over the 32 years that we’ve been a band, we’ve had things come up, challenges such as musicians that have left the band, business people, relationships that you have built over the years. Things come to an end, and you have to meet the challenge and keep going forward.”