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Yellowjackets: Altered State (2005)

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Yellowjackets: Altered State How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Fusing South African rhythms with soothing R&B melodies, the Yellowjackets continue to put up a refreshing performance that's made to suit easy listening audiences. Their mellow harmony and relaxed rhythmic pulses belie a loyalty to leisure suits, platform shoes with awkward heels, and hangin' out at the disco. The band began in the late 1970s, when those things were in vogue. The core element in their performance has never left them.

Bob Mintzer employs the tenor saxophone for most of this session, along with Russell Ferrante's piano, Marcus Baylor's edgy backbeats, and Jimmy Haslip's pulsing bass throbs. Guests join them for an R&B spectacle on "The Hope." Together, the Yellowjackets sway through hazy clouds of relaxed motion for an afternoon of suntanning and kickin' back.

"Hunter's Point" provides a different look. Mintzer adds soprano sax, bass clarinet, and EWI to the mix for a journey that takes the quartet on an adventure. As they explore exotic lands, the foursome cruises to new and interesting impressions. Unbridled energy characterizes their desire to explore new and different sounds. Similarly, "Youth Eternal" raises the bar in order to inject more adrenalin into the performance. Hip and energetic, relying on Baylor's vast array of multiple textures for a mosaic of funk-driven anxiety, the Yellowjackets give it a thrilling ride. Elsewhere, the band's smooth jazz concept keeps it tied to a relaxed format that soothes as it informs. This performance, intended for easy listening habits, drowns away the rigors of the day and envelops you in a swarm of delicious moods.

Visit Yellowjackets on the web.


Track Listing: Suite 15; March Majestic; The Hope; Hunter's Point; Mother Earth; Youth Eternal; Free Day; Cross Current; Aha; 57 Chevy; Unity.

Personnel: Bob Mintzer- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, EWI; Russell Ferrante- acoustic piano, electric piano, keyboards; Jimmy Haslip- electric bass; Marcus Baylor- drums. With Jean Baylor, Sharon Perry, Lori Perry, Carolyn Perry, Darlene Perry- vocals on "The Hope;" Mike Shapiro- percussion on "Hunter's Point" and "Suite 15."

Record Label: Heads Up International

Style: Contemporary/Smooth


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