January 15, 1995 |
The studio-based GRP unit, with its multiple arrangers--Michael Abene, Bob Mintzer, Tom Scott, Dave Grusin, Russell Ferrante--suffers from the lack of a single personality. It's also small in size--13 pieces, with only one trombone (the excellent George Bohannon) and three trumpets--so its sound is slightly diminished from a full 16-17 member unit.
November 30, 1988 |
You've got to give guitarist Robben Ford credit. His opening set at At My Place on Monday (the first of a two-night stand) was an effective return for the musician known for his jazz fusion work to the classic blues he described as his "real musical preference." Concentrating on material from his new Warner Bros. album "Talk to Your Daughter," Ford sang passably well and played a lot better in a program that ranged from the title song (an old J. B.
December 12, 1987 |
The Palace was packed to the rafters by 8:30 Thursday night, the musicians were on hand and everything was set for the appearance of Sadao Watanabe, the Japanese jazz saxophonist. But it wasn't until 9:45 that the show finally began. The reason for the delay? According to one of the mid-floor peacekeepers, it was to sell more booze. As an alcohol salesman, Watanabe deserves no credit. As a musician, he deserves much.
August 6, 1990 |
The Yellowjackets continue to make real strides toward jazz legitimacy. Performing on a Saturday night at the Greek Theatre with Michael Franks, the quartet sounded far removed from the fusion that dominated its early music. A good part of the credit must go to keyboardist Russell Ferrante, whose ensemble playing reflected his compositional style of contrasting powerful blocks of harmony with rapid-fire, Lennie Tristano-esque melody lines--all of it executed with a powerful rhythmic drive.
June 14, 1992 |
Since this 12-tune project involved an ad hoc band, with four different pianists and no fewer than eight very different arrangers, the results are as variable as might be expected. They range, in fact, from the sublime (Russell Ferrante's ingenious arrangement of Victor Feldman's "Seven Steps to Heaven") to the ridiculous (Tom Scott's pseudo-funk bleating on his tenor sax solo on Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder").
June 2, 2005 |
With the Yellowjackets' 25th anniversary coming next year, the group continues to exemplify how to reach beyond the mainstream jazz audience. Formed in the late '70s as a backup ensemble for guitarist Robben Ford, the quartet -- which now consists of original members Jimmy Haslip (bass) and Russell Ferrante (keyboards) with later additions Bob Mintzer (saxophones and clarinets) and Marcus Baylor (drums) -- has moved easily across the boundaries of contemporary jazz genres.