Album Review: Yayennings Vol. 2 Swings Hard

Yayennings Vol. 2 is a terrific album of conversations and chemistry.  Jay Jennings (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Bob Reynolds (tenor sax) are chatting and trading riffs constantly throughout each song. They flow in and out of unison alternating leads at breakneck speeds and relink back in sync. It’s incredible how fluid they are together and with Jose Perez on drums and and Ross Schodek on bass laying down the grooves end-to-end.

I first got hip to this quartet at GroundUP Music Festival (GUMF) 2018 late night set (click for video) and taken in by an all drum brushes set from Jose and the nascent rapport between the band.  Of course Jay and Bob are longtime bandmates in Snarky Puppy and plenty of experience grooving together. With Jose and Ross driving the rhythm, I could listen to these four talking all night long. Here’s my track-by-track coverage of this excellent new album — and check out Jay’s liner notes to the right.

Yayennings Vol. 2 was written in 2020 and recorded in 2021. The process began during the pandemic and slowly evolved into the record it is today during some of the most complicated and difficult times in history. My first record “Scott Ave” was written in 2017 upon moving to Los Angeles. There was a much different vibe in the world, and in my life. Vol. 2 has slightly more of an edge to the compositions. This comes out in our playing as well. We were trying to keep the west coast vibe, and I think that was accomplished. But the energy of this record is slightly elevated and I can feel everyone playing a little harder in a way. I can tell the difference from the way we are articulating and phrasing, to the actual volume of the notes. I like to hear it as more of a balance between west coast and east coast vibes.

– liner notes from Jay Jennings


Airport Jacket takes off with Jay and Bob copiloting and Ross and Jose fueling the engine. Bob takes the first lead with Jay shadowing at Mach 1 before they flip the switch. The pace is fast enough for the Blue Angels taking off near LAX. It’s a helluva way to start the album. 

LA Vice has a swinging groove, a great swinging rhythm from Ross and Jose and super sultry tones from Jay and Bob. This is a little tamer than the first tune but such a showpiece for the horns. They’re two of my favorites and among the best in the business.

Old Angeles has a cool, West coast vibe with seamless trading between Bob and Jay. Their timing is impeccable making their duality silky smooth. The vibe here is upbeat finger-snapping bop. Definitely some tunage for a warm, LA night in the ocean breeze.

Recovery is another feel-good tune akin to ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ without words. It’s really a kick hearing Jay solo with Bob plying a sort of echoing following line and it all makes sense. Bob’s solo is smooth, mellow and precise – I can never get enough of his tone. The head of this song carries to the end with some twists and turns along the way – so well composed and a pleasure.

Prescott is another hot take. It’s uber cool and I’d love to see this live in a club with the whole joint toe-tapping along.  One of the real pleasures of this album is the ability to hear each of the foursome so clearly as the move in the same direction but along different paths just weaving back and forth and this tune is exemplary.

Rita establishes a bouncy head played a few rounds out of the gate before Jay and Bob start another dialogue. The segues between the two flip flopping roles with the peaks and valleys is always sharp. The refrain of the head rolls right to crisp outro.

Indy 250 starts with the foursome in high gear. Jay takes the early lead with Bob setting the pace midway through. Like the other tunes, Jay and Bob alternate between first and second, finally cruising to the finish in a dead heat.

Sharona Cutdown starts on a dime. It’s another fine showing of the prowess of all four as individuals but also really working together for that great bop vibe. The live fade out is a refreshing balance to the fast pace tune.

The Quick is so aptly named and a great closeout of the album. I can only imagine the breath power and manual dexterity necessary to pull this off. Jose gets a couple of brief bridge parts which is a great feature of this tune. 

YAYennings Quartet is:

Jay Jennings – Trumpet
Bob Reynolds – Saxophone
Jose Perez – Drums
Ross Schodek – Bass