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Yellowjackets feat. Bobby McFerrin and Chris Botti in Concert
With 21 CDs to their credit and 30 years later,  the Yellowjackets new release in April 2011 "Timeline" showcases the band's ability to keep their sound fresh as well as help lend their talents to other artists. Smooth Jazz Magazine sits down with Russell Ferrante to discuss the secrets to the band inter workings as well has look into the side projects of its members such as Jimmy Haslip new CD project "Nightfall".
Hollywood, CA           July 13,  2011              Photos by: Yolanda Mason
christbotti071311hollywoodbowl1.jpg yellowjacketsandbobbymcferrinhollywoodbowl071311048.jpg  Russell Ferrante yellowjacketsandbobbymcferrinhollywoodbowl071311058.jpg  Bob Mintzer   Jimmy Haslip
 yellowjacketsandbobbymcferrinhollywoodbowl071311026.jpg  Will Kennedy
 yellowjacketsandbobbymcferrinhollywoodbowl071311109.jpg  Yellowjackets yellowjacketsandbobbymcferrinhollywoodbowl0713110114.jpg  Bobby McFerrin christbotti071311hollywoodbowl2985.jpg  Chris Botti hollywoodbowl071311136.jpg  Hollywood Bowl
Interview backstage before the show with  Russell Ferrante   
Hollywood, CA                      July 13,  2011              By: Art Jackson

SJM: Russell, would you say that you are the driving force behind the Yellowjackets success?


Russell: I have been involved since its inception, I have written a lot of music and with us being four musicians and the piano being the only one with cords, but I wouldnt say anymore important than anyone else. I can just see it now, that after 30 years, the Yellowjackets breaks-up because of Art Jackson, he is responsible with those rumors...the room fills with laughter.


But in all seriousness, our process is more of a democracy where everyone gets to put their on spin of each song and we are willing to try something different upon suggestion but at the end it is totally a collaboration with everyone's involvement.


SJM: We recently did an article on Jimmy Haslip for his side project CD "Nightfall".  What side projects have you been involved with?


Russell:  Well I work as a freelance musician as well as a professor at University of Southern California.  But I just finished a new project with Grant Geissman who just finished wrapping up his new CD today so be on the lookout for that.


 Hollywood, CA                               July 13,  2011              By: Melissa Berry


Discusses new CD – Nightfall

When Interpretation Becomes Innovation


Nightfall, bassist Jimmy Haslip’s newest CD, is when interpretation becomes innovation – not unlike when twilight, that time when the sun has set but remains a small distance below the horizon, then magically becomes dusk and then…nightfall.  It’s all in how you see it and what you do with it.  Jimmy Haslip’s Nightfall reunites him with keyboardist/producer Joe Vannelli, who also collaborated on Haslip's Red Heat (Unitone, 2000), in exploring the rhythmic and melodic, although distinct from the Yellowjackets genre, it travels through familiar territory with a new musical perspective that’s definitely Haslip’s own.


As the creation of Haslip’s musical knowledge and associations, Nightfall combines this with his affinity for an eclectic scope of musical styles.  Haslip is famous for his versatility of tone, including being able to very closely achieve the tone of an upright acoustic bass on an electric bass, his melodic bass lines, and his expressive solos, and Nightfall reflects all this all.  It has so much in it that just when one passage starts to bring you a sense of familiarity and gets you settled comfortably into its groove, it moves on, leaving you a sense of wanting more but also being impatient for what’s to come. Luckily this kind of vastness of musicality, demands sustained listening, which is a repeated pleasure.


Chatting with Jimmy Haslip was like reminiscing with an old friend about music through the years - lots of musical references – mostly about music I’ve only listened to whereas he’s “been there and done that”.  Specifically Jimmy named names from the classically esoteric, to names we’ve all become familiar. As we chatted, I was compelled to bring up several nuances on the CD that seemed so palpably familiar but since these were only fleeting moments, I wasn’t sure. Upon first listening there’s the truly great jazz stuff, but upon the next listening there are some harmonies and rhythms that go somewhere besides just traditional jazz.  In particular, I asked him if I really heard a very wonderful faint taste of a favorite album from years ago by Weather Report. I did.  Jimmy told me it was Jaco Pastorius, with whom he’d had the privilege of studying with for only a couple of weeks early on in his career and deeply influenced the way he thought about the bass.  With that, I had to ask him, who and what other musical influences were there, not just in this album, but also in all of his music.

"Well definitely for me the Beatles, especially Paul McCartney, inspired the melodic concept and James Brown inspired the groove. There was Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria who inspired rhythm. Béla Bartók, Mozart, Prokofiev, Samuel Barber, Chick Corea, early Genesis, Gentle Giant, Olivier Messiaen, Dmitri Shostakovich, Krzysztof Penderecki, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Villalobos, Brahms, Wayne Shorter, Zawinul, Alban Berg, Mingus, Miles, Nicolas Slominski, Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, The Motown Sound and Aaron Copeland, just to name a few that inspired writing, arranging and composition.” That list in itself was no ordinary musical “laundry list”.


Obviously, no musical experience has been forgotten or wasted.  Even though he’s worked with many notable artists including Bruce Hornsby, Rita Coolidge, Gino Vannelli, Kiss, Tommy Bolin, Allan Holdsworth, Marilyn Scott, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Donald Fagen and Anita Baker, the visual arts are also an intrinsic influence in his music.  "Van Gogh, Dali, Henri Rousseau, Georgia O'Keefe, Leonardo Deviance, Galileo, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Plato, Walt Whitman, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, Picasso, Bolero, Matisse, Escher, Canaletto, Gaudi, Gauguin, Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Frank Capra, Orson Welles, Line Wertmuller, Ingmar Bergman, François Truffaut to name a few who inspired my imagination."                          


Nightfall is a compilation of all of this and then some.  Like all good music, it’s when the intellectual meets the emotional.  I’ve found most CD’s have a wonderful personal story behind them no matter how brief.  Nightfall is no exception. This album is dedicated to Jimmy’s daughter.  During a lengthy time of her being seriously ill, he found that his writing was his sanctuary during the wait and her subsequent recovery.  It was a time of reflection, remembrances, and personal experiences that inspired him and allowed him to cover a broad spectrum of music in his compositions from Latin-inspired grooves, pulsating Afro-Cuban percussion, to soul-pop and fusions. The music was recorded over four years, and much of it is programmed and reflects Joe Vannelli’s brilliant use of synthesizer that nowadays can be completely mundane and overpowering.  This is not the case since Nightfall also has moments of sweeping, lush strings, breathy, honeyed sax with great percussion including throbbing congas. Haslip's playing is wonderful throughout, and his distinctive tone, guitar-like melodic lines and core lyricism are decidedly smooth giving the listener the opportunity and just relax and let him take the lead.                                                                                                                                            


Nightfall is a kind of musical “comfort food”:  it’s just what you want when you want it.  It has honesty and intelligence that’s trustworthy and allows you to give into it.  There’s a cut on the CD, the laidback, breezy "On Sunday", which is a fusion of all this.  Mix this with the title Nightfall, and it’s that wonderful feeling that comes at dusk on Sunday at the end of the perfect weekend; the best part being you know it’s going to be there for you again – just like nightfall.









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