A Rise In The Road
Review by Willard Manus

The Yellowjackets have been turning out one stellar jazz record after another for some three decades now, for such labels as MCA and Warner Brothers. But three years ago the band signed with Michigan-based Mack Avenue and released Timeline, an album which reached #5 on Billboard's jazz chart. Now the band has put together A RISE IN THE ROAD for the same company, a ten-track release that's every bit as good as anything it has done in the past.

Longtime band members Bob Mintzer (sax), Russell Ferrante (keyboards) and William Kennedy (drums) have been joined by a new musician, Felix Pastorius, replacing the veteran Jimmy Haslip on bass. Pastorius, son of the late Jaco (Weather Report) Pastorius, more than holds his own on A RISE IN THE ROAD, not only providing solid rhythmic underpinning throughout but soloing effectively on such complex tunes as Madruga and (You'll Know) When It's Time.

All compositions on the album are originals; they include funk grooves, smooth-jazz ballads and intense, fiery jamming. Guesting on three tracks is the young trumpet phenom, Ambrose Akinmusire. His contributions, plus the rock-solid work of the Yellowjackets regulars, help make A RISE IN THE ROAD the worthy CD it is.

(Mackavenue.com or yellowjackets.com)