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 good things must come to an end, as he has decided to make his hiatus permanent. 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.
Felix Pastorius is the newest Yellowjackets member. He is the son of legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius (who passed away in 1986), most known for his affiliation with jazz-fusion contemporaries, Weather Report. A Rise In The Road marks the first time in nearly 30-years that Jaco's bass was played on a new recording. The instrument can be heard on several tracks. Robert Trujillo (bassist for Metallica), who owns Jaco's bass, is a Pastorius family friend and generously loaned Felix the bass for the session.
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."
"We do miss Jim, without a doubt," concludes Mintzer. "Whenever you change personnel in a partnership band like this one, things change dramatically. But somehow, this core of what the Yellowjackets is about remains; it transforms in one direction or another. But there is this strong sense of collaboration and strength in numbers that I seldom find in groups where there typically is a leader. A Rise In The Road is the next chapter of the Yellowjackets. We welcome Felix Pastorius to the fray and are grateful to have the opportunity to express ourselves in a way that reflects where we are all at in this very moment."
Upcoming Yellowjackets Appearances
June 25 / Rochester Jazz Festival / Rochester, NY
July 5 / Syracuse Jazz Festival / Syracuse, NY
July 6 / Windsor Jazz Jam / Windsor, CT
July 16 - 17 / Yoshi's / Oakland, CA
July 19 / Highland Theater / Albuquerque, NM
July 20 / One World Theater / Austin, TX
July 21 / Dosey Doe / Woodlands, TX
August 4 / Hartwood Acres Amphitheater / Pittsburgh, PA
August 16 - 17 / Sculler's Jazz Club / Boston, MA
August 18 / Hollywood Bowl / Los Angeles, CA
August 31 / Tuscumbia Country Club Festival / Green Lake, WI
September 1 / Detroit Jazz Festival / Detroit, MI
September 25 - 28 / Jazz at the Bistro / St. Louis, MO
October 1 - 2 / Jazz Alley / Seattle, WA
October 3 / Kuumbwa / Santa Cruz, CA
October 4 / Gallo Center PAC / Modesto, CA
October 18 / Copenhagen Jazz Festival / Copenhagen, Denmark
October 19 / Tversted Jazzy Days / Tversted, Denmark
October 27 / TBA / Katowice, Poland
November 9 / Lawrence University Jazz Series / Appleton, WI
December 13 / Jefferson Center Jazz Series / Roanoke, VA
December 14 / Knight Theater / Charlotte, NC