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The Yellowjackets have undergone a number of personnel changes over their seventeen-year history. Original members Russell Ferrante (piano/keyboards) and Jimmy Haslip (bass) are now joined by William Kennedy (drums) and Bob Mintzer (tenor/soprano). The addition of Mintzer, a player with solid, straight-ahead jazz credentials, gives the Yellowjackets a slightly harder edge than many of their R&B/fusion contemporaries. Their sound, at times, is reminiscent of later Weather Report and cuts such as Spirit Of The West and The Evening News display an appealing rhythmic groove. This is one cohesive unit. Sadly, four of the ten tracks feature vocals and I think they detract from the groups' snappy, original instrumentals. For folks turned off by the sappiness of Kenny G. (and if you're not, you should be), but are not ready to make the leap to "real" jazz, Club Nocturne offers a satisfying compromise. ***
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.