The Yellowjackets @ The Musical Instrument Museum

Posted: March 6, 2011 in Concerts, Contemporary Jazz, Smooth Jazz
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Music is something all humans share, a source of beauty and comfort in our daily lives, a means to give voice to our joy in times of celebration and a powerful force that brings us all together. Music is the lifelong friend that we all have in common.

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) celebrates music as all of these things—a sustaining human gift and wellspring of global culture. We invite people from every nation and walk of life to come and share in this common legacy, be amazed by the beauty and diversity of musical instruments from all across the globe, and be enriched by their sounds and the stories they have to tell.

The Yellowjackets began as the Robben Ford Group, a three-piece backup unit assembled for the guitarist’s 1977 release, The Inside Story. However, when Ford and his band headed in different creative directions, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Ricky Lawson renamed themselves the Yellowjackets and released their self-titled debut album in 1981. By 1987, Lawson had left the band and was replaced by William Kennedy, whose polyrhythmic sensibilities opened doors to an even greater sense of exploration. The result of this exploratory sensibility was Four Corners, a 1987 recording with a distinctly world-music sensibility.

Greenhouse, released in 1990, welcomed tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer into the Yellowjackets lineup. Mintzer’s dedication to the jazz tradition, along with his highly developed skills as an arranger, has since taken the ‘Jackets to a new level of sophistication. Throughout the 1990s, the ‘Jackets continued to explore a diverse cross section of sound and rhythm. They entered the new millennium with their self-released Mint Jam. The two-disc set was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Backing up the regular lineup of Ferrante, Haslip, and Mintzer on Mint Jam is drummer Marcus Baylor, who continued with the band for ten years. Most recently, William Kennedy has returned to the drummer’s chair for the Yellowjackets.

Time Squared, the follow-up to Mint Jam, was released in 2003. Their first studio recording in five years, Time Squared captures much of the energy and spontaneity that made Mint Jam a formidable Grammy contender. Peace Round, the 2004 holiday album, includes several traditional holiday songs, each with a unique contemporary jazz spin. Altered State, released in 2005, continues to merge the traditional with the progressive by exploring unusual time signatures and exotic rhythms. The Yellowjackets celebrated its milestone twenty-fifth anniversary with the 2006 CD/DVD release of the aptly titled Twenty-Five, which captured live performances in France and Italy.

In the summer of 2007, the Yellowjackets were joined by guitar virtuoso Mike Stern for some electrifying performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival. The dates served as a catalyst for Lifecycle, a ‘Jackets/Stern studio collaboration that proved to be one of the most innovative and memorable jazz albums of 2008. The first Yellowjackets recording in fifteen years to feature a guitar player, Lifecycle illustrates the kind of energy and creative brilliance that results when five talented players pool their individual skills as songwriters and musicians and merge into an entity that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

For more information on the Yellowjackets, visit http://www.yellowjackets.com.

Mim Music Theater, 4725 East Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, Arizona

Saturday, March 12, 2011 – 8:00 pm

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