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Articles | Popular | Future

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: Raising Our Voice

Read "Raising Our Voice" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Named after a rather unpleasant insect, founded by a guitar superstar to back him but then dropped, the Los Angeles-based Yellowjackets--despite it all--continue to forge ahead. There's something of the MJQ about them: they dress well (if casually) and play a brand of jazz that is discreet and refined, sometimes almost to the point of becoming background music. Of the musicians picked as a backing group by Robben Ford in 1977, only Russell Ferrante (keyboards) remains. Now ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: A Rise in the Road

Read "A Rise in the Road" reviewed by Ian Patterson

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 ...

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Yellowjackets: Timeline

Read "Timeline" reviewed by Ian Patterson

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: Timeline

Read "Timeline" reviewed by Mark F. Turner

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 ...

FILM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: New Morning - The Paris Concert

Read "Yellowjackets: New Morning - The Paris Concert" reviewed by John Kelman

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 - ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets with Mike Stern: Lifecycle

Read "Lifecycle" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

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 ...

INTERVIEWS

Yellowjackets: What's In a Name?

Read "Yellowjackets: What's In a Name?" reviewed by Ian Patterson

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. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: Twenty Five

Read "Twenty Five" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

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 ...

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Yellowjackets: Twenty Five

Read "Twenty Five" reviewed by Jeff Winbush

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 ...

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Yellowjackets: Altered State

Read "Altered State" reviewed by Jim Santella

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: Altered State

Read "Altered State" reviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Yellowjackets: Altered State

Read "Altered State" reviewed by John Kelman

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 ...