A Rise in the Road

An unimaginably long time ago, I spent a Sunday morning in Sausalito, drinking Ramos fizzes with a best friend while we listened to jazz played by a quartet whose name is lost to my memory. It was glorious. The sun was out, the bay was glistening, sailboats were bobbing in time to the bass lines, and San Francisco shimmered in the distance. That morning came to mind as I listened to the crisp ensemble playing on the 22nd album released by the Yellowjackets, a band I’ve neglected far too often. I won’t be making that mistake in the future. This album hits the sweet spot that jazz can hit for me, creating a mood both reflective and celebratory. Russell Ferrante’s piano evokes a range of emotion through this 10-song set, but it all feels good—to the ear and to the soul. Ferrante wrote most of the pieces here, and Bob Mintzer, whose sax playing is perfectly in synch with Ferrante’s piano, contributed four compositions, including “I Knew His Father,” a song about Jaco Pastorius, the father of Felix Pastorius, the band’s new bass player who replaces longtime Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip. Pastorious hooks up nicely with drummer William Kennedy. The result: It’s sunny in Sausalito, and the band plays on.