Following on the heels of their Grammy-nominated Mint Jam, their self-released 2001 "live" recording, the Yellowjackets continue to blaze an enjoyable musical trail that pulsates with their energy and signature sound that few will fail to recognize and many have come to love over the past 30 years. With Time Squared, the group's first studio recording in five years, the Yellowjackets have added 11 diverse songs to this fertile contemporary jazz landscape. The songs, which were all written by the group's new members, range from prayerful, peaceful melodies with improvised vocals, such as "Healing Waters," to those that capture Thelonious Monk's piano style. On "Monk's Habit," pianist Russell Ferrante and tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer stir up some great jazz memories by playing an amazing straight-ahead set ripe with bebop solos reminiscent of Monk's time with Sonny Rollins. The title track has the listener in a '70s boogaloo instinct, but Mintzer has set it apart with the addition of his bass clarinet for texture, Jimmy Haslip's great basslines, Ferrante's very cool electric keyboard lead on the melody, and truly complimentary rimshots and backbeats from drummer/percussionist Marcus Baylor. The set closes with "My 1st Best Friend," which features Mintzer taking a dynamic saxophone solo that has the potential to take its place alongside some of the more memorable jazz solos. Overall, Time Squared is perhaps the most multi-dimensional offering from the Yellowjackets since their explorations in the 1990s took listeners through a diverse cross section of sound and rhythms. But there are no hints of sameness here. This is a full-length music CD and a multimedia CD-ROM with a video, artist profile, and a lot of great jazz played by great musicians.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein