Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets

The Yellowjackets are an American jazz fusion quartet.

Biography

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 Little Feat, 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 early 2008, the Yellowjackets recorded their 20th release, Lifecycle, at BiCoastal Studios in Ossinging, New York. 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). Lifecycle will be released on HeadsUp International on May 20, 2008.

On April 25, 2008, the Yellowjackets performed at the Blue Ridge Jazz Festival in Smithsburg, Maryland. During this concert Bob Mintzer performed with the host school, Smithsburg High. After this, Mintzer performed with the Yellowjackets.

Discography

Full albums

  • Yellowjackets (1981)
  • Mirage a Trois (1983) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Jazz Fusion recording"
  • Samurai Samba (1985)
  • Shades (1986) - won a Grammy for "best R&B Instrumental"
  • Four Corners (1987) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Politics (1988) - won a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • The Spin (1989) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Greenhouse (1991) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Live Wires (1992)
  • Like a River (1993) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Run for Your Life (1994) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Dreamland (1995) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Blue Hats (1997) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Club Nocturne (1998) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Mint Jam (2001) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Time Squared (2003) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Peace Round: A Christmas Celebration (2003)
  • Altered State (2005) - nominated for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Jazz recording"
  • Twenty-Five (2006)
  • Lifecycle (2008) - featuring Mike Stern

Compilations/Box Sets

  • Collection (1995)
  • Priceless Jazz Collection (1998)
  • Best of Yellowjackets (1999)

Miscellaneous feat. Yellowjackets

  • Casino Lights (1982)
  • STAR TREK IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Current members

Former members

External links & sources

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