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Jazz - Released November 6, 2020 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Released September 14, 2018 | Mack Avenue Records

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At the dawn of the 80’s you could say the Yellowjackets were the kings of the highway. Highway jazz to be precise. The type of Jazz fusion that one would’ve listened to in a Los Angeles traffic jam, wearing an Armani suit, with an oversized shirt, the window down, hair in the wind... Elevator music for their critics. Groovy, virtuoso, pop jazz for their fans. Like a very, very mainstream very, very smooth version of Weather Report... Three long decades later the Californian group have calmed it down a bit and have released some less built-up more acoustic jazz. Pianist and founder Russell Ferrante, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, drummer Will Kennedy and Australian virtuoso bassist Dane Alderson did not push the boundaries into a free and avant-garde style, but despite this the score for Raising Our Voice is an excellent one. The voice of Brazilian singer Luciana Souza on seven of the thirteen tracks also brings some originality to the album. The Yellowjackets stick with a smooth sound but never take the easy route. And just like in the 2016 album Cohearence, even if the melodies are very sensual, the improvisation remains, as always, very interesting. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released June 25, 2013 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Released April 22, 2016 | Mack Avenue Records

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Ok – there’s definitely a play on word’s for this third album release on Mack Avenue Records from Yellowjackets – but it’s also an extremely pertinent title, as we observe an uncanny cohesion among the musical collective across all ten original compositions that feature on the album. It’s the same Yellowjackets, with a revamp in style and the addition of Australian electric bassist Dane Alderson. Melodic, rhythmic, electric jazz fusion – this has always been the basis for the group and they continue to explore and invent new musical territory as their 35-year long career continues.
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Jazz - Released February 24, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Jazz - Released April 20, 1983 | Warner Records

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Jazz - Released February 7, 1997 | Warner Jazz

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Jazz - Released March 15, 2011 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Released November 20, 2007 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Jazz - Released June 10, 1981 | Warner Records

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Jazz - Released September 11, 1998 | Warner Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | GRP

The Yellowjackets were a fixture on the GRP label for a decade, and this CD is a sampling of some of their work from the period. During that era, in addition to keyboardist Russell Ferrante, electric bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer William Kennedy, the Yellowjackets were joined by the reeds of Bob Mintzer (who is heard here playing tenor, bass clarinet, soprano and the EWI). The 11 selections on the CD include a variety of pieces including vocal features for guests Take 6 ("Revelation") and Michael Franks ("The Dream"), "Wildlife," "The Spin," "Jacket Town" and a tribute to Miles Davis, "Dewey." All but one of the selections has guests (including Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuna or Nana Vasconcelos on percussion and Steve Croes on synclavier in addition to the singers) and in general these are some of the more commercial selections recorded by the Yellowjackets during the generally stimulating period. The numbers are taken from Live Wires, Politics, Like a River, Run for Your Love and Shades. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | GRP

Taking a cue from Weather Report (not to mention a percussionist, Alex Acuña), the Yellowjackets created more exotic textures for Four Corners, often with the use of Zawinul-like synthesizers from Russell Ferrante. The album otherwise represents a shift toward more traditional jazz, felt profoundly in the rhythm section of Jimmy Haslip and new drummer William Kennedy. The change in strategy is made plain on the opening "Out of Town," which finds everyone rethinking their instrument beyond the smooth jazz of Shades. While the atmospheric production of David Hentschel and the band lends an ominous air to the music, fans may see it as a poor tradeoff for the readily identifiable (and often instantly likeable) melodies of their previous work. Though nothing leaps off of Four Corners screaming "Hum me," sections of it are mesmerizing. "Past Ports" and "Wildlife" in particular absorb the listener into a breathing musical world. The disc isn't a full conversion from smooth jazz; Marc Russo's sax is still as sweet as ever, but on a track like "Open Road" the effect is icing on a spice cake. Haslip provides some noisy patterns that suggest he was striving for more substance; in fact, he and Ferrante seem to duke it out for control of "Postcards," while everyone throws their own wrench into "Room With a View." Four Corners is the product of four separate musicians striving to cultivate their own voice, a journey that discovers some interesting music along the way. That the Yellowjackets wanted to explore beyond the fringes of smooth jazz boded well for the band's future. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | GRP

Other than the easy-listening pieces that appear near the beginning of the program, this is one of The Yellowjackets' strongest jazz dates. Bob Mintzer's creative reeds (switching between tenor, bass clarinet, soprano and the EWI) keep the music stimulating and keyboardist Russell Ferrante has come a long way as both an improviser (where he is most influenced by Herbie Hancock) and as the band's main composer. With bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer William Kennedy in strong supporting roles, the ensemble plays intelligent funk grooves, some mood music and occasional sections of straightahead jamming. The inclusion of the Miles Davis-influenced trumpeter Tim Hagans on half of the selections adds variety to a particularly enjoyable set. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Verve Reissues

The Yellowjackets' first release for GRP, Greenhouse, is a real gas. The disc starts innocently enough with "Freedomland," the kind of smart smooth jazz song that marked The Spin. It's on the following "Greenhouse" that listeners glimpse a change in the air: Strings (!) set the stage for dreamy, exotic jazz that melts in your mind, music that goes well beyond similar experiments on earlier Yellowjackets sessions. From this point on, the band travels back in time: Russell Ferrante's piano, the understated rhythm section, and Bob Mintzer's saxophones (Marc Russo had left, though Mintzer wasn't an "official" member yet) smoke with the fire of cool jazz. There are still some electronics employed, but generally they're arranged in a subordinate role to give the acoustic sounds an added presence. It would be tempting to call Mintzer the catalyst of change -- his saxophone playing is more note-filled and squeakier than Russo's, a style that evokes traditional jazz -- but the new direction in sound is just as evident in the piano playing of Ferrante, the softened attack of William Kennedy (plenty of cymbals, quieter snare hits), and the articulated playing of Jimmy Haslip (best heard on "Indian Summer"). The fresh start allows the Yellowjackets to escape from under the cloud of smooth jazz and expose their "serious" side, all while continuing to place composition and melody over individual musicianship. Calling this the band's most mature work to date belies a natural distrust of smooth jazz, so better to say that Greenhouse is loaded with personality. Mintzer's spooky bass clarinet on "Brown Zone," the wild bop workout unleashed on "Liam/Rain Dance," and the violin jig on "Freda" are among their most memorable musical moments. The Yellowjackets haven't changed the way they approach their music, but the newfound ability to communicate in a more traditional jazz setting casts them in a whole new (and flattering) light. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 13, 1985 | Warner Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | GRP

This is one of The Yellowjackets' most jazz-oriented sets. Roughly half of the music uses funky rhtyhms while the remainder is straightahead. "Jacket Town" sounds like it could have come from a good Eddie Harris record, Bob Mintzer's tenor is heard on a rapid run-through of rhythm changes on "Runferyerlife," keyboardist Russell Ferrante hints strongly at Chick Corea's acoustic playing on "Muhammed" and Mintzer's ballad "Sage" is memorable. This fine release is recommended both to The Yellowjackets' longtime fans and those listeners who mistakenly think that this popular group is a mundane fusion band. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Yellowjackets

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | GRP

The Yellowjackets are a jazz band for the Windham Hill set: i.e., smooth and relaxing rather than edgy and stimulating. If Shades goes down like straight sugar (and not the lumpy kind), it's supposed to. Since some folks are naturally drawn to this type of music and others are not, an appreciation for jazz is not enough -- you'll need an appreciation for crossover jazz (aka "smooth jazz") to enjoy this album. If you do like your jazz on the lyrical side, and don't mind the late-night talk show arrangements, chances are you'll think Shades is pretty cool. Led by alto sax player Marc Russo, these eight songs glide along with nary a care in the world, promising to burst into song at any moment (which in fact happens on the gospel-inspired "Revelations"). Thanks in part to the electronic instruments and immaculate studio sound, Shades retains an uplifting and bouncy feel throughout. "New Shoes," "One Family," and "Regular Folks" are songs that listeners can warm up to in a hurry. Despite Russo's gratuitous solos, the Yellowjackets are not a flashy band -- Jimmy Haslip's agile bass is too low in the mix to be accused of showboating, and drummer Ricky Lawson and keyboardist Russell Ferrante don't seem interested in the spotlight. Without those individual excursions, the Yellowjackets sacrifice some identity, but generally the compositions stand up on the merits of their melodies. Because the melodies are so accessible, Shades occasionally sounds more like the work of contemporary pop artists with jazz aspirations (Donald Fagen, Bruce Hornsby) than contemporary jazz artists. That this music would sound at home in a supermarket should scare off jazz purists, but even they might find themselves humming along to it somewhere in a secluded aisle. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | GRP

Smooth jazz with some rough edges, you can actually sink your teeth into The Spin. Yellowjackets haven't completely taken pop/jazz out of their diet -- Marc Russo's "Blues for Nikki" and Russell Ferrante's "Whistle While You Walk" will skip a little too lightly for some tastes -- but most of the songs find a satisfying midway point between the sweet and the sour. "Geraldine," "Dark Horses," and "Storytellers" all have some meat on them, with keyboardist Russell Ferrante leading a musical discussion that steers clear of the banal. Leaving Russo to carry the melodies, Ferrante is free to pursue a more discursive dialogue (notably on "Enigma"), with punctuation provided by the brisk percussion of William Kennedy (who shines on "Dark Horses"). Jimmy Haslip's bassline gives "The Spin" its shape, but he continues to fade in and out of the mix, and fails to make the most of his one solo. The compact disc features a great bonus track: a medley of Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and Bud Powell's "Hallucinations." What their version may lack in soul they make up for in stride. The Spin has more on its mind than an album like Shades, and Yellowjackets' willingness to create and resolve musical problems will give some listeners pause to think. At least on this occasion, Yellowjackets show that light jazz doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure. © Dave Connolly /TiVo