The Yellowjackets have been a creative force on the jazz scene since 1981 when they recorded their renown debut. Next month will see the band release their new album titled “Raising Our Voice”, their fourth album on Mack Avenue Records. Raising Our Voice, once again ups the ante with bold new strides by inviting vocalist extraordinaire Luciana Souza to collaborate with the group for seven of its thirteen tunes as well as subtly taking a resistant stand against the status quo of the cultural and political undercurrent of our times.
For those not familier with Luciana Souza she is a native of São Paulo, Brazil and the daughter of poet Tereza Souza and musician Walter Santos. In 1988, she graduated with a degree in jazz composition from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and later went on to receive a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1994.
Souza won a Grammy Award in 2007 as a featured vocalist on Herbie Hancock’s album River: The Joni Letters and her Brazilian Duos recordings have received nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2003 and 2006 and in 2013 Duos III was nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album. In addition, Souza was named Female Singer of the Year in 2005 and 2013 by the Jazz Journalists Association.
The Yellowjackets have consistently forged ahead in their evolving artistic statements. The band has recorded close to 30 albums, been nominated for 17 GRAMMY® Awards, and has adventurously amplified the eclectic, electro-acoustic soundscape, creating a unique jazz sound since its fusion beginnings.
Bob Mintzer who joined the group in 1990 said “The band keeps moving forward. It’s one of the few partnership bands in the last four decades. It’s democratic, laissez-faire and accommodating to everyone in the band to contribute. We’re constantly reinventing ourselves as a reflection of what’s happening in the world.”
The Jackets are comprised of pianist/keyboardist/co-founder Russell Ferrante, bassist Dane Alderson in his second recording with the group and drummer Will Kennedy, who joined the band in 1987 and then in 2000 took a 10-year hiatus before returning to the drum chair. As a relative outsider, Souza contributes wordless vocals as well as songs sung in Portuguese and English. She was quickly won over by the band.
“They’re killers,” she says. “They’re so serious yet also so much fun. We laughed a lot during the sessions. Their curiosity is alive, and their joy is to make great music. I was originally going to just do three songs, but it ended up that I’m on over half the record.”
The collection features three old Yellowjackets tunes arranged for a fresh ride with Souza’s contributions, two co-writes with Ferrante and Souza, three new originals each for Ferrante and Mintzer, and Alderson’s first original piece for the band along with two short electronics interludes.
Unlike the last album where the music was toured before the studio recordings, Raising Our Voice grew organically from the collaborative nature of the sessions. “There was a gap between the last album and this one,” says Ferrante. “We hadn’t been playing a lot live, so most of these tunes came alive in the studio and were sparked by the electricity and chemistry with Luciana.”
Kennedy adds, “This is the album where we were the least prepared for the writing and rehearsals. It was a bit of a cram. But that gave it an excitement. And then Luciana, who came in at the last moment, was a great discovery for bringing her talents as a gift to the band.”
The Ferrante and Souza collaboration began years earlier when talking about working together. “As they were thinking of the next album, Russ came to the house and we went into my studio and we talked,” explains Souza. “He played some music and I sang along, and it was very sweet and unguarded.”
“We looked through some music that had a Brazilian feel to it,” Ferrante says. “We chose songs that lyrically fit her musicality.” Kennedy added when speaking of the album “It’s a different and unusual snapshot of where the Yellowjackets are today,” says Kennedy. “We’re getting older, but we’re still inspired and listening.”
The Album will be released on 29 September on Mack Avenue and will be available on all digital and streaming platforms as well as on CD in a special 8 panel Digipak.
More Information at the Mack Avenue Website.
In support of the Album the Band together with Luciana Souza will tour Europe. Watch this apace for more details.
Russell Ferrante, Piano, Keyboards | Bob Mintzer, Saxophones, Ewi | William Kennedy, Drums | Dane Alderson, Bass | Luciana Souza, Vocals
1. Man Facing North 6:47 | 2. Mutuality 6:31 | 3. Everyone Else Is Taken 6:01 | 4. Ecuador 5:52 | 5. Strange Time 4:49 | 6. Emerge 1:00 | 7. Timeline 5:14 | 8. Quiet 5:49 | 9. Divert 2:04
10. Brotherly 6:35 | 11. Swing With It 5:02 | 12. In Search Of 5:12 | 13. Solitude 4:19
Last modified: August 24, 2018