Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

723

Yellowjackets: New Morning - The Paris Concert

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
YellowjacketsYellowjackets

New Morning - The Paris Concert

Heads Up International

2009

A 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 - Electronic Wind Instrument) and relative newcomer Marcus Baylor (drums).



Some of Yellowjacket's best records have been live ones like its first with the current line-up, 2002's Mint Jam (Heads Up), demonstrating that its music may sound easy on the ears, but not only is there much more going on under the hood, but Yellowjackets is, quiet simply, one smoking live act, capable of stunning virtuosity, boiling over energy and plenty of attitude when it comes to groove. New Morning - The Paris Concert, filmed in high definition during a 2008 performance at the now-legendary French venue, wastes no time in making that clear.



The quartet may be electric, but its roots in the tradition remain clear, especially since Mintzer joined the group in 1990 for Greenhouse (GRP, 1991). Yellowjackets even dips right back to that album for a brief look at Ferrante's "Freedomland," a high octane tune that's a seamless segue from the hard-swinging "With These Hands," and features an impressive a capella solo from Mintzer that's swings just as hard, even as the group comes in and the tune takes a turn into more energetic contemporary territory. Haslip's frightening 16th note groove and Baylor's powerful and flexible playing drive a tough head that's more powerful than the original, despite its brevity. Weather Report has always been a reference point for the group, but Yellowjackets absolutely does not follow the late keyboardist and bandleader Joe Zawinul's "everybody solos and nobody solos" aesthetic; there's too much overt virtuosity on display here, but never in excess and always in service of the group's compelling original material.



Even the gospel-inflected "Even Song," first heard on Run For Your Life (GRP, 1994) and co-written by Ferrante, Haslip and Mintzer, is funkier and more alive than the original—largely because, as good as Baylor's predecessor Will Kennedy was, the direction of the label at the time was towards a more radio-friendly vibe. Here, everyone goes for it in a way that's still accessible, but, at the same time, far more muscular. Mintzer's solo is supported by Baylor's flexible backbeat, while Haslip continues to amaze as a focused soloist who's as impressive for his way with a melody as he is with his ability to create one approaching the speed of light.



The group is just as impressive when it hits modal territory. There's something reminiscent of the late Michael Brecker in Mintzer's "Aha," but the Yellowjackets tenorist possesses his own voice, with his own signature that's at once less piercingly visceral but still undeniably potent. Ferrante uses his synthesizer judiciously throughout the set, but on this tune it's acoustic all the way, with a McCoy Tyner-inflected solo that's filled with big block chords and lithe right hand runs.



The material covers the group's career since Mintzer joined, with particular emphasis on Blue Hats (Warner Bros., 1997), culling three of the show's 12 songs from a disc that was part of a concerted effort to move towards a leaner acoustic sound. While still appealing to the core constituent of fans who were attracted to the group's electrified energy, Blue Hats remains a career high point that found Yellowjackets beginning to draw in fans of more straight-ahead jazz. The group proves capable of elegant strength on Mintzer's softly swinging ballad "Prayer for Peace," but aims again for Weather Report territory on "With These Hands," a knotty tune with shifting meters that features a fiercely swinging piano solo from Ferrante that, bolstered responsively by Haslip and Baylor, is one of many highlights in this 90 minute concert. Ferrante's "Downtown," first heard on an earlier live CD, Live Wires (GRP, 1992), recalls late-Jaco Pastorius era Weather Report albums like Night Passage (Columbia, 1980) and Weather Report (Columbia, 1982), but Ferrante's synth orchestration over this fiery swinger is sparer, with greater emphasis on acoustic piano, as Mintzer's solo weaves through the changes with unerring accuracy and in-the-moment compositional strength.

Yellowjackets l:r: Russell Ferrante, Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Haslip, Marcus Baylor



A brief bonus feature, the eight minute-long Bonus Sketches, provides a brief glimpse into as Yellowjackets soundcheck, including some interview footage with Haslip, who provides some historical context for the group's 28-year career.

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Raising Our Voice

Raising Our Voice

Mack Avenue Records
2018

buy
A Rise In The Road

A Rise In The Road

Mack Avenue Records
2013

buy
Timeline

Timeline

Mack Avenue Records
2011

buy
Lifecycle

Lifecycle

Heads Up International
2008

buy
Twenty Five

Twenty Five

Heads Up International
2006

buy
Altered State

Altered State

Heads Up International
2005

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
May29Wed
Yellowjackets, The Yellowjackets
Tivoli/vredenburg
Utrecht, Netherlands
Jun1Sat
Yellowjackets
New Morning
Paris, France
Oct29Tue
Yellowjackets, The Yellowjackets
Fasching
Stockholm, Sweden

Related Articles

Film Reviews
Buddy Bolden: Out of History's Shadows
By Victor L. Schermer
May 3, 2019
Film Reviews
Green Book: A Serious Comedy and Jazz Allegory
By Victor L. Schermer
December 28, 2018
Film Reviews
Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (2CD/Blu Ray)
By John Kelman
December 22, 2018
Film Reviews
Green Book Directed By Peter Farrelly
By Mike Perciaccante
December 3, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge Uncut
By Doug Collette
November 17, 2018
Film Reviews
Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge - 50 Years of Defining Culture
By Doug Collette
October 7, 2018
Film Reviews
The US Festival 1982: The US Generation
By Doug Collette
September 2, 2018