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Yellowjackets: Timeline (2011) CD Review

by March 01, 2013
Yellowjackets Timeline

Yellowjackets Timeline

Label: Mack Avenue (MAC 1058)


Track List

1)     Why Is It

2)     Tenacity

3)     Rosemary

4)     Timeline

5)     Magnolia

6)     Single Step

7)     Indivisible

8)     Like Elvin

9)     My Soliloquy

10)  Numerology

11)  I Do


It's hard to believe the quantity of high quality original music the Yellowjackets have turned out over the past 30 years.  And, that doesn't even take into account the individual efforts of band members Russell Ferrante (keyboards), Jimmy Haslip (bass), and Bob Mintzer (woodwinds); Mintzer alone has turned out both small combo and big band releases that have kept him on the college campus workshop/clinic tour for years. What makes this release special for me is the return of William Kennedy to the drum chair after a decade long absence, and the grooves definitely pick-up where they left off! I was lucky enough to see the Yellowjackets in concert in St. Louis shortly after the release of this CD (long story short, I timed a family trip to coincide with their appearance) and all of them signed my copy of Timeline.  Because they essentially record “live in the studio”, the Yellowjackets tend to sound as good in concert as they do on disc. Timeline received not one, but two Grammy nominations in the categories of ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Album’ and ‘Best Instrumental Composition’ for the Russell Ferrante penned title track. I can honestly say such great success couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.

Audio Quality

While the Yellowjackets have shared producing credits for the majority of their releases, the words “recorded, mixed, and mastered by Rich Breen” always signal you're in for a sonic treat. Possessing an electrical engineering degree, Rich has literally worked on dozens of recordings that have been nominated and/or won Grammy Awards over the last 20 years or so (including a Latin Grammy in 2012 for the Ivan Lins/Metropolis Orchestra Recording). Several years ago, I was introduced to Rich (via email) through a mutual friend. On occasion, Rich will respond to one of my “that was a great recording” compliments with an interesting factoid about the project--and this was one of those occasions. It turns out that the horn sections on Tenacity and Like Elvin didn't really start out as horn sections at all: they were originally done by saxophonist Bob Mintzer on the EWI (an electronic wind instrument made popular by the late, great Michael Brecker). When the group collectively decided they didn't really like that sound, they brought in John Daversa to overdub the trumpet parts. Now I know these guys are professionals, but I think the results are amazing considering they weren't recorded simultaneously as is typically done with horn parts.  I would challenge anyone to tell the difference! Not coincidentally, these are two of my favorite cuts on the CD. Another interesting groove is Magnolia, aided by the return of original Yellowjacket Robben Ford on guitar, who was partially responsible for the formation of the group over 30 years ago. Another favorite cut is the only one penned by drummer William Kennedy, Rosemary; it features an intricate percussion interplay that makes for nice relaxed groove. The only track I don't really like is Indivisible, so there's a lot of great music to enjoy on this CD.


This CD has quickly become one of my all-time favorite Yellowjackets releases, and I bet I listen to it an average of once a week. I believe that drummers are the heart and soul of a group, and I think the essence of the Yellowjackets can be found in the grooves of William Kennedy over the last 20 years or so. Unfortunately, this may be the last release to feature both Kennedy and Haslip, as Jimmy Haslip has now officially been replaced in the bass chair by Jaco Pastorius' son, Felix. Only time will tell if this mix yields similar results, but I'm sure many long-time Jaco fans are dreaming of the possibilities.


Audio Quality: 5/5

Features: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Reference Equipment

  • Yamaha DSP-A1 Natural Sound A/V Amplifier (Stereo Mode)
  • Pioneer Elite CLD-99 Reference LD Player
  • Polk Monitor 10B Speakers (x2)


About the author:
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Stanton was born and raised in Kansas City, where he was exposed to the rich culture of jazz at a very young age. He's a drummer and an electrical engineer and loves to review jazz music for us.

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