Yellowjackets: Raising Our Voice

Chris Mosey By

Sign in to view read count
Yellowjackets: Raising Our Voice
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 with the addition of Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, scatting and singing in both English and Portuguese, a totally new dimension is added to the Yellowjackets sound.

Daughter of bossa nova songwriters, Souza grew up steeped in saudade, the yearning for something lost, that is a vital ingredient of Brazilian music and that can even be a kind of pleasure. She says of the Jackets: "They're killers. They are so serious yet also so much fun. We laughed a lot during the sessions. Their c withuriosity is alive and their joy is to make great music." Raising Our Voices features three Yellowjacket tunes re-arranged to include her, mostly in the context of blending with Bob Mintzer's saxophone. On "Man Facing North" she follows Mintzer into a light and airy musical territory, then on "Timeline" she sings "against" his sax before soaring off on her own. Perhaps most successfully, she melds sinuously with his saxophone on "Solitude."

It is bassist Dane Alderson's second recording with the Jackets. He composed "Brotherly" to mark the occasion. It's a choppy piece held together by his bass with Mintzer's tenor and Souza's vocal underpinned by drummer William Kennedy.

Ferrante says; "We hadn't been playing a lot live, so most of these tunes came alive in the studio and were sparked by the electricity and chemistry with Luciana." His own contribution to the album is "Mutuality," based for its inspiration on a Martin Luther King speech. "It really connects to the title of the album, which has a political slant. It's about waking up to see what's going on," he says—most likely with a nervous eye on current happenings in the Trump White House.

Track Listing

Man Facing North; Mutuality; Everyone Else Is Taken; Ecuador; Strange Time; Emerge; Timeline; Quiet; Divert; Brotherly; Swing With It; In Search Of; Solitude.


Russell Ferrante: keyboards; Bob Mintzer: saxophones; Dane Alderson: bass; William Kennedy: drums; Luciana Souza: vocals.

Album information

Title: Raising Our Voice | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Wonderful World
Chris Standring
Tomas Liska & Invisible World
Zero Grasses: Ritual for The Losses
Jen Shyu and Jade Tongue
J. Peter Schwalm & Markus Reuter
Liudas Mockūnas / Arvydas Kazlauskas


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.