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Altered State by Yellowjackets

Altered State is the 2005 release from the pop/jazz outfit called Yellowjackets. The cover art is courtesy of highly regarded painter and long time Yellowjackets fan, Peter Max. The band sent Max the titleless music, and he then contributed the Altered State name as well. ‘It refers to that mediatative place where one goes when you engage in whatever creative thing you do,’ keyboardist, Russell Ferrante, says. The disc has eleven unnumbered tracks (checking out the set list is an annoyingly more difficult effort than it should be.)

The piece "The Hope," features the lead vocal of Jean Baylor (wife of drummer Marcus Baylor) and the smooth sax backing of Mintzer. The strongest composition, "Hunters Point," gallops into dark waters - opening up space for the soloists. The combo of Fender Rhodes, bass clarinet and soprano sax paints the picture. The chilly theme lingers throughout.

Lately, the band has been focusing a lot of their creativity on manipulating time - obscuring the pulse, hiding the beat and playing in trickier time counts. The band’ s air tight playing and outstanding chemistry ignites fires and passionate playing during their segments of stretching out.

Towards the end of the disc, the fire that works so well throughout the first portion of the disc disappears. The placement of "57 Chevy" and the reflective "Unity" at the end of the set kills the hard earned momentum created by the previous portion. This leaves behind a bland taste and the impression of coming up short.

Yellowjackets’ use of and reliance on electronics and highly polished production is ever present, as is their trademark characteristic of making challenging music sound effortless. Altered State goes down the safe and accessible path of their previous releases.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Yellowjackets
  • CD Title: Altered State
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Heads Up
  • Tracks: Suite 15, March Majestic, The Hope, Hunter’s Point, Mother Earth, Youth Eternal, Free Day, Cross Current, Aha, 57 Chevy, Unity
  • Musicians: Bob Mintzer (tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, EWI), Russell Ferrante (acoustic & electric piano, keyboards), Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), Marcus Baylor (drums) Guests: Jean Baylor (vocals); Sharon Perry, Lori Perry, Carolyn Perry, Darlene Perry (backing vocals); Mike Shapiro (percussion)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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