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Yellowjackets: Intimate Moments

Cheryl Hughey By

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For those of you who came here thinking you were going to hear a traditional jazz band, we apologize if you —Bob Mintzer
Fine food, good spirits and lively music was the theme for the Yellowjackets concert on September 25, 2003, hosted by Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis, Missouri. Jazz at the Bistro is an intimate club, nestled near the heart of Grand Center. Providing an outlet for straight-ahead jazz, it has become a local hotspot.

Noting the special atmosphere of the evening, Bob Mintzer greeted the attentive crowd by saying, “Nice to see everybody. Nice to be in a jazz club.” Current musicians include: Jimmy Haslip, bass; Bob Mintzer, sax; Marcus Baylor, drums; and Russell Ferrante, keyboards.

“Spirit of the West” was the opener with “Red Sea” to follow. “Go Go” from their latest CD, Times Squared, was full of steady rhythms with Bob Mintzer on tenor sax.

Mintzer noted that the group encourages the education of young musicians by attending local schools while on tour. He also took a moment to talk a bit about their style of music saying, “For those of you who came here thinking you were going to hear a traditional jazz band, we apologize if you’re in absolute shock . . . the goal of the Yellowjackets [is] to incorporate different types of styles [by] keeping it fresh and current.”

Although all the musicians were outstanding, watching Haslip on stage was mesmerizing. It is as if he becomes the song and the melodies become him. (You can catch some of his other work on the recently released Marc Antoine CD, Mediterraneo. )

A fast moving “Monk’s Habit,” also from the Times Squared album, was technically advanced with an experimental vibe. The drum solo by Marcus Baylor was just enough to compliment the piece without being overpowering. Mintzer ended the tune by saying, “That was fast!” By contrast, Marcus’ wife, Jean Baylor, delighted the crowd with a “fuoyant vocal” during “Healing Waters.”

To find out more information about the current US/European tour or the upcoming Christmas album, check out the Yellowjackets web site: www.yellowjackets.com .


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