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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: A Rise in the Road

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With the departure of bassist Jimmy Haslip in 2012, pianist Russell Ferrante is the sole original member, more than three decades after the band's debut recording Yellowjackets (Warner Bros, 1981) set the ball rolling. That said, saxophonist Bob Mintzer has been onboard 22 years and drummer Will Kennedy 14. Not for nothing does the twenty second studio recording sound every bit a Yellowjackets offering--and a fine one at that. New bassist Felix Pastorius has been touring with the band for over a year and in quiet fashion makes the bass chair his own.Melodically seductive throughout, there's less bite ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Timeline

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Timeline is Yellowjackets' 21st album, in a career spanning 30 years--an impressive return, and an indication of the group's enduring appeal and continued motivation and commitment to making music. As ever, there are signs of evolution, with the addition of trumpet widening the sonic palette. However, pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante's sparing use of synthesizer-- which has given an orchestral depth to much of the group's music over the years--and saxophonist Bob Mintzer's switch from EWI to bass clarinet, steers the music as close to acoustic jazz as it's ever been. The drummer's door revolves once more, with Marcus ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Timeline

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To have worked thirty years in the business is exceptional for any band, especially in jazz. But since 1981, pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip have maintained the award-winning Yellowjackets--from that year's eponymous Warner Bros. debut, with its infectious blend of fusion and funk, featuring guitarist Robben Ford, and the incorporation of jazz and strings in Greenhouse (GRP, 1991), with multi-reed master Bob Mintzer, to the twentieth anniversary double-CD Mint Jam (Yellowjackets Ent., 2001)--and the group's beat, in its varied forms and a few personnel changes, continues to live on and on. Timeline is the Yellowjacket's ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: New Morning - The Paris Concert

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YellowjacketsNew Morning - The Paris Concert Heads Up International2009A group that has, on occasion, ventured along the fine line between contemporary jazz and that of the smoother variety, Yellowjackets has always been a performing band. Now approaching its 30th anniversary as a collective, it's the group's eighth year with a consistent line-up that includes, in addition to co-founders Russell Ferrante (keyboards) and Jimmy Haslip (bass), long-timer Bob Mintzer (saxophone and EWI - Electronic Wind Instrument) and relative newcomer Marcus Baylor (drums).

Some of Yellowjacket's best records have been live ones ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets with Mike Stern: Lifecycle

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For the better part of three decades, Yellowjackets have insisted and persisted on doing things their own way and by themselves. So it's fitting that when they deviate from their normal approach and bring in guitarist Mike Stern, the resulting project is titled Lifecycle. The first Yellowjackets recording in fifteen years to feature a guitarist, Lifecycle brings together two powerhouses in modern music. The quartet of Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, Bob Mintzer and Marcus Baylor has stood the test of time with creative melodies and brilliant solos, while Stern has carved his own path with his distinctive electric ...

INTERVIEWS

Yellowjackets: What's In a Name?

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2006 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Yellowjackets. It has been a quarter of a century of continuous evolution, both musically and in terms of changes in band personnel.

From their R&B beginnings with guitarist Robben Ford in '81 right through to the sophisticated and utterly distinctive brand of jazz that they play today, the Yellowjackets have moved with the times, absorbing different aspects of world music and adding new rhythms and influences to the pot.

Original founding members, keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip have steered the Yellowjackets across the seven seas, navigated some ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Twenty Five

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Longevity in music is something to be celebrated--especially in jazz, where a “hit occurs with the frequency of a winter storm in August. With Twenty Five, the Yellowjackets have reached a milestone attainable only with sustained excellence. Originally named the Robben Ford Group after the band's leader and guitarist, the Yellowjackets began buzzing in 1981 with Ford, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip and drummer Ricky Lawson. After a few personnel changes, the current lineup of Ferrante, Haslip, Bob Mintzer and Marcus Baylor was formed in 2000. Twenty Five is a two-for-one treat: a CD and a DVD capture ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Twenty Five

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For some veteran bands, a live album can be a way to buy time until the next studio release. For the Yellowjackets, Twenty Five offerns an opportunity to celebrate 25 years of growth, change and development. Following the addition of Bob Mintzer on tenor saxophone in 1990, the band's evolution from smooth jazz to serious contemporary music was solidified. Since then, Mintzer's sax has become the predominant sound of the Yellowjackets, a decision that founding members pianist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip seem to have embraced without allowing their egos to get in the way.Among the CD's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Altered State

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Altered State

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There's something distinctive about Yellowjackets' sound. It's contemporary in that the music is fresh and employs some modern conveniences--such as the electric bass and the EWI. Still, the way it's put together is old school--like the free-flowing style and the manipulation of time. And if that's not enough, there's a color or flavor to Bob Mintzer's sax and Russell Ferrante's piano that lets you know it's a 'Jackets tune. This distinctive approach is evident from the start of their new album, Altered State. With eleven tracks clocking in at an hour, and brilliant Peter Max artwork on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Altered State

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Sometimes the best move a band can make is to go indie. Consider Yellowjackets, who have been imbued with unquestionable instrumental credibility since emerging in the early '80s. Over their 25-year career Yellowjackets have veered from torch carriers of the latter-day, more structured incarnations of Weather Report to a group in dangerous proximity to smooth jazz territory. In the process of racking up nearly twenty recordings, the group's technical prowess has never been in question, but some of its choices in direction were more than a little suspect, especially during its middle period on the lightweight GRP label. Still, with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Altered State

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Yellowjackets' music is steeped in the R&B/jazz tradition of the Jazz Crusaders, Junior Mance, Weather Report, and, of course Miles. Russell Ferrante always manages to slip a bit of church into his piano playing, a trend quickly picked up and absconded with by Bob Mintzer. Jimmy Haslip plays the most elastic bass since Victor Bailey, and Marcus Baylor must be the toast of the percussion town.

The band members all come together for Altered State in a brilliant kind of sacrament, a funky communion bearing little darkness or moodiness. This is incredible happy and effervescent music. The opening ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Peace Round

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Christmas albums are a dime a dozen. Yet in the hands of skillful, forward-thinking musicians, even the most frequently recorded holiday classics deserve another listen. This is certainly the case with the Yellowjackets' Peace Round. The quartet of Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, Bob Mintzer and Marcus Baylor provides a fresh, unique approach to the Christmas theme with this collection. The album was independently released in 2003, then reissued this year by Heads Up International. Each member contributed to the arrangements of such traditional songs as “Little Drummer Boy," “Deck the Halls," “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and “Winter ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yellowjackets: Yellowjackets

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Most contemporary jazz or instrumental pop albums released over the past 25 years owe one thing or another to the style and sound advanced by this 1981 debut.

When keyboardist, composer and arranger Russell Ferrante pulled drummer Ricky Lawson and bassist Jimmy Haslip into his fledgling swarm, he also called on guitarist Robben Ford, with whom he played in Jimmy Witherspoon’s band, to inject a hard rock edge into the music. “It wasn’t like the earlier fusion of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, which was a very chopped kind of rock sound,” recalls Ferrante. “We were ...



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