Perhaps out of ignorance, I have avoided the Yellowjackets because of my distaste for the Rippingtons. I am a stick-in-the-mud-acoustic-jazz-snob. And, I must admit, I am that to my own disadvantage and loss. Over the past 20 years, the Yellowjackets have released 20 recordings, counting Time Squared
. In that time they have sold beaucoups records, started their own record company, and toured widely. Listening to Time Squared
it is easy to understand why. The band adopts a "Rhythm and Jazz" stance that separates them from Spyro Gyra and scores of anemic new age electric combos. Add to that, the band contains perhaps the four finest electric jazz musicians around.
Equal in all parts, the band is a groove machine. Bob Mintzer is the heir to Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet crown, shoehorning this stubborn instrument into a contemporary setting (hear "Smithtown"). Ferrante’s acoustic piano playing is in apparent high gear with great solos on "Smithtown", "Go Go," and "V." Haslip and Baylor are outstanding here as always.
I suspect that I will forever remain a stick-in-the-mud-acoustic-jazz-snob. I am glad, however, that there is music like this to sneak up on me.
For more information, see Heads Up Records and The Yellowjackets .