I have been incredibly fortunate to interview musicians ranging from Bob James to Fred Hersch but the opportunity to chat with a personal inspiration takes things to a new level and for that I am incredibly grateful. What follows is my conversation with Jimmy Haslip:
Most fans are aware that with the latest release from the
Yellowjackets came the announcement that you decided to make your break from the band permanent. How did you know or what was key in you making this decision and how important is it for musicians to have the type of flexibility that you are showing now in this artistic shift.
J.H. "Yes, not an easy decision to make, I must add.
After being in a band for some 32 years plus, it takes quite a bit of soul searching to make the decision to leave. I was a founding member and I had invested an enormous amount of time and energy to this project. I was very close to all the members, including alumni and ex founding members. It was an extended family on many levels. The freedom within the band grew with time and we were all able to experiment with other situations and musically have many other outside outlets. The structure of this group was outstanding and comfortable for a long time. I also benefited from the experience of composing, producing, production coordination, mixing, mastering and even being totally involved with artwork and direction. On all levels, this band taught me a lot and it actually prepared me for this shift in my career. It became evident that something was pulling me away and even on the other end pushing me out of being involved with this project as it once was.
Now, my belief, is that change is always good, and we certainly made that a big part of our working model. We strived for that with each project and for better or worse, the outcome was always successful. We always managed to come up with a unique body of work, whether slightly or drastically different, it was about trying to continue to grow with each project and each tour.
At some point this really became difficult, I think and I feel that the process changed and so be it. I knew that in order to continue this process after so many years, there had to be a big change. I know that changes were made in the last two or three years, I was looking for something more substantial in change and maybe even coming back to what the root of the band was to re examine some of the earlier success.
I did see something that might have been interesting to follow up on, but I don’t think it was something that would have been a unified choice. In fact, I know that it wasn’t something that was going to happen. I would say that was close to a year before I actually decided to take a hiatus, and then two years before actually resigning.
I know that the band is strong and still has a lot of momentum. There is a new recording for release with Felix Pastorius . . . I can only say that I am proud of all the work and proud to have been a member of such a long running and successful project.
I have extreme respect for the Yellowjackets and will always support the band
100% with all that comes from this point on.
I am now immersed in working as a producer. Since leaving the Yellowjackets now about a year and half, I have produced 14 projects, including my third solo project called, NIGHTFALL, which I co-produced with Joe Vannelli.
I am currently finishing, in various stages of completion, 3 new production projects and I am in negotiation and soon starting 3 new production projects
It’s been very hectic, But I enjoy multi-tasking and I love music. So, this is all
perfect for me. I am extremely grateful."