Monday, April 13, 2009

Jazz Recommendation: Yellowjackets.

A modern jazz fusion quartet that I would like to recommend are called the Yellowjackets. Not too much introduction from me except their smooth style is always characteristic and unique. wikipedia has a good summary on them.

Their web site is: "Yellowjackets"

Extracted from Wikipedia:

The Yellowjackets are an American jazz fusion quartet.

The original group, called The Robben Ford Group, was formed in 1977, and consisted of Robben Ford, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip and Ricky Lawson. Ford had originally assembled the group to record Inside Story, but signed to a separate record contract, ended up listed as a guest artist. Eventually he was replaced by saxophone player Marc Russo. Ricky Lawson left in 1986 to tour with Lionel Richie. Some of their songs were featured on The Weather Channel's Local On The 8s segments.

Founded in 1981 as an R&B-oriented band that starred guitarist Robben Ford, the group took a giant step forward when, after Ford's departure, altoist Marc Russo took his place. With original members Russell Ferrante on keyboards and electric bassist Jimmy Haslip, in addition to drummer William Kennedy, the band found its own R&B-ish sound, sometimes playing original compositions that sounded like Joe Zawinul at his most melodic. Starting out on Warner Brothers in the early '80s, the Yellowjackets moved to MCA/GRP in 1986, where they released a string of well-received albums.

They also appeared with two songs on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

In the '90s, Russo chose to go out on his own and plays regularly with The Doobie Brothers, and his replacement, Bob Mintzer (on tenor and bass clarinet), added more jazz credibility to the group's music. They moved back to Warner Brothers in 1995 for several albums before moving the Heads Up label for the live two-CD set Mint Jam in 2002. 2003 saw the release of their first studio album in five years, Time Squared. Three years later, the band celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary as an ensemble with the release of the live album Twenty Five.

In May 2008, the Yellowjackets released their 20th release, Lifecycle, also on HeadsUp International. Lifecycle features guitarist and label-mate Mike Stern, making it the first Yellowjackets record in 15 years to feature guitar (1994's Run For Your Life featured Robben Ford on the track Even Song). The album has been nominated for the 2009 GRAMMY Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Russell Ferrante has also been nominated in the category of Best Instrumental Composer for the track "Claire's Closet."

Local Hero - Yellow Jackets

Current members:
Russell Ferrante - keyboards, synthesizers
Jimmy Haslip - bass
Bob Mintzer - saxophones, bass clarinet, EWI (since 1991)
Marcus Baylor - drums, percussions (since 2000)

Former members:
Robben Ford - guitar (1977-1978)
Ricky Lawson - drums (1977-1986)
Marc Russo - saxophones (1985-1989)
William Kennedy - drums (1987-1999)
Peter Erskine - drums (1999)
Terri Lyne Carrington - drums (2000)

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