The Yellowjackets will release Timeline on March 15 on Mack Records. Spearheaded by keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip, The Yellowjackets offer fans its 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.
“We get extremely engaged with every project and we try to elevate and open things up,” Haslip said in a news release. 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. It’s not easy to accomplish this after 30 years.”
The band moves forward with a new relationship with 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 10 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.
Timeline is described as characteristically diverse but also cohesive, melodically accessible and also 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.