Late this past August, legendary jazz outfit Yellowjackets released its latest album, Parallel Motion through Mack Avenue Music Group. The band’s 23rd (yes, 23rd) studio recording, it was released Aug. 26, less than two years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Jackets XL. That record was itself quite the appealing presentation, being well-deserving of all of its accolades. This record is just as deserving of praise in its own right, as its featured musical arrangements make clear. They will be discussed shortly. For all that the album’s musical content does to make it appealing, the lack of any background information on the songs does detract from the album’s engagement and entertainment to a point. That detraction is not enough to doom the album but is still of some concern. This will be addressed a little later. The record’s production works with its content to put the finishing touch to its presentation and make the album all the more appealing. When it is considered alongside the musical content, the whole therein makes the album overall yet another mostly successful offering from Yellowjackets.
Parallel Motion, the latest album from veteran jazz collective Yellowjackets, is another mostly successful offering from the group. Its success comes in large part through its featured musical arrangements. The nine total songs that make up the record’s body are diverse throughout. The album’s title track, for instance, is an enjoyable modern jazz work that also shows some influence from the likes of Weather Report. That influence is especially evidenced through the pairing of Russell Ferrante’s work on piano and Bob Mintzer’s work on saxophone. There is something about the sound and style that the duo exudes that points right back to Weather Report’s music. Drummer Will Kennedy’s very tight, short beats point even more to that influence, making for even more interest.
‘Onyx Manor,’ which immediately follows, changes things up quite noticeably, this time offering audiences something of a more hip-hop infused approach and sound. Kennedy and Ferrante lead the way in this nearly nine-minute opus. The fun, mid-tempo edge that the pair gives the song even throws in some vintage funk and R&B influence along the way to make for even more interest. It is completely unlike ‘Parallel Motion’ and the album’s other entries, and no less entertaining and engaging, too. It is just one more example of the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and the enjoyment that said diversity brings.
‘Resilience,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is yet another example of the noted diversity in the album’s musical content. This five-minute-plus opus lends itself to comparison to works from the band’s 1997 album, Blue Hats. That is evidenced through the collective of the group’s performance. Mintzer’s work on the saxophone and Ferrante’s light performance on piano joins with Kennedy’s steady time keeping to make the song such a fun, light composition. Even with its stylistic similarity to works from Blue Hats, it still boasts its own unique identity that makes for its own engagement and entertainment. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes clear, the diversity in the album’s musical content. That diversity and the general effect therein forms a strong foundation for the album’s presentation.
As much as the album’s musical content does to make it so enjoyable, the lack of any background on the songs weakens that foundation to a point. Some brief discussions on the songs’ histories are provided in information provided to the media, but even in that case, it is limited. To that end, audiences will be able to enjoy each of the album’s songs, regardless, but only to a point. This critic has pointed out countless times that with any instrumental music (jazz and otherwise) there is always an influence and a story. Having that story, even in the album’s liner notes, adds so much to the engagement and entertainment. Not having that information allows enjoyment only on a surface level. To that end, the lack thereof does not doom the album, but it certainly does not do any favors for the overall engagement and entertainment. Keeping that in mind, there is still at least one more positive to note in the album’s presentation, that positive being the album’s production.
The production that went into the album’s is important to examine because of its role in the album’s general effect. As noted, the songs featured throughout the album are diverse from one another. Their sounds and styles are all unique. That means that plenty of attention had to be paid to each song to ensure the best is brought out in each unique work. Whether in a quiet, relaxed work, such as ‘Early’ (which closes the album), a slightly more up-tempo but still relaxed work, such as ‘Samaritan’ or even something slightly livelier, such as ‘Challenging Times,’ the best is brought out in each work. The band, which self-produced the album, ensured each musician got his own moments in the proverbial spotlight in each song. The result is that each musician’s work expertly compliments that of his counterparts from beginning to end. In turn, the emotional impact of each song is fully felt. When the resulting positive general effect herein is considered along with the effect of the songs’ diversity, the whole results in the album being a mostly successful and enjoyable Yellowjackets offering.
Parallel Motion, the latest album from the veteran jazz outfit Yellowjackets, is a mostly positive offering from the group. Its appeal comes largely from its musical content, which offers plenty of diversity for audiences to enjoy. While the musical content that makes up the record’s main body forms a strong foundation for the album, the lack of any background on that content weakens that foundation to a certain point. That detraction is not enough to doom the album, but certainly does not help it any. The production of the album’s musical content works with said material to round out the album’s most important elements. Their pairing of the content and its production creates a largely positive general effect that will ensure even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment. When this is kept in mind, the result is that the album becomes another largely successful offering from the group and another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz offerings.
Parallel Motion is available now through Mack Avenue Music Group. More information on Parallel Motion is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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