by Willard Manus
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.