Yellowjackets – Time Squared
(Heads Up – 2003)
by Ray Redmond
This has got to be the best Yellowjackets release since their first stint with Warner Brothers, some 15 years ago! Once again Heads Up records has breathed life into a fading act by giving them the creative freedom to create what they like, not what they think will sell. Yellowjackets — keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip, tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer and drummer Marcus Baylor have evolved through more than two decades of recording and performing, over a dozen Grammy nominations, and two Grammy Awards. Listen to the strong interaction on the truly jammin’ Sea Folk (nice bass runs from Haslip here) or Mintzer’s funky Go Go and you can feel the vibe. Healing Waters is drummer Marcus Baylor’s elastic but easygoing songwriting debut which features atmospheric vocals by his wife, Jean Baylor. The title track is old-style fusion music, just the way we like it.
Time Squared addresses personal as well as global challenges. Gabriela Rose, written by Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip, is dedicated to Haslip’s daughter, who survived a near fatal illness in 2002. Claire @ 18 is Ferrante’s reflection on his daughter’s bittersweet transition from childhood to adulthood. And The Village Gait commemorates “the exact moment [September 11, 2001] when time was stretched almost beyond our comprehension in New York City.” Time Squared is a new exploration of some of the most creative and unpredictable moments along the jazz continuum, but the results are conveyed in a language that’s universal and well worth a listen.