One thing a band with the Yellowjackets’ longevity is likely to experience is change. The 32-year run has seen their fair share of change, with the most recent one happening with the bass chair. Back in January 2012, we broke the news that Felix Pastorius – son of the late Jaco Pastorius – was replacing Jimmy Haslip. Haslip reportedly wanted to take some time off to work on other projects.
Since then, Haslip has decided to make the change a permanent one.
Pastorius has toured with the Yellowjackets over the past year, and he now appears on the band’s 22nd album, A Rise In The Road.
The lineup for this release also includes keyboardist Russell Ferrante – who has appeared on all of the band’s albums – Bob Mintzer (23-year member) and drummer William Kennedy (14-year member, spread out between two different time periods).
A core theme of the 10-track album is the changes the band has seen.
“It’s about the challenges that people face in their lives and whatever path they are on: It’s not always smooth sailing, it’s not always a level road,” shared Ferrante. “Certainly, over the 32 years that we’ve been a band, we’ve had things come up, challenges such as musicians that have left the band, business people, relationships that you have built over the years. Things come to an end, and you have to meet the challenge and keep going forward.”
Pastorius’ connection to the group ties back to his father, who enlisted Mintzer in his post-Weather Report Word of Mouth Big Bands.
“Obviously, I’ve known Bob my whole life,” Felix told us.
“The music industry is a small place. We held auditions with a few bass players, and Felix’s name came up,” Mintzer said. “He was the one that rose to the top, really played well, and seemed like he had the personality that fit well. I believe we made the right choice.”
To make things even more interesting, Felix played his father’s legendary Bass of Doom on the album, marking the first time in 30 years the instrument was performed on an album. The instrument is owned by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, who is a Pastorius family friend and loaned the bass to Felix for the session.
“The actual recording process went smoothly,” Ferrante said.
“Felix did a lot of homework; he had charts and demos of the new music.” Mintzer added. “On several of our records there were extensive overdubs. But on A Rise In The Road, it was mainly just the four of us playing live. There were a couple of little overdubs, but not nearly as much as previous albums. We accomplished a big, big sound. It sounds pretty wide for just four guys!”
“We do miss Jim, without a doubt,” Mintzer admits. “Whenever you change personnel in a partnership band like this one, things change dramatically. But somehow, this core of what the Yellowjackets is about remains; it transforms in one direction or another. But there is this strong sense of collaboration and strength in numbers that I seldom find in groups where there typically is a leader. A Rise In The Road is the next chapter of the Yellowjackets. We welcome Felix Pastorius to the fray and are grateful to have the opportunity to express ourselves in a way that reflects where we are all at in this very moment.”
A Rise In The Road Track List:
- When the Lady Dances
- Civil War
- Can’t We Elope
- An Informed Decision
- Thank You
- An Amber Shade of Blue
- (You’ll Know) When It’s Time
- I Knew His Father