Twenty Five years ago, the Yellowjackets began an odyssey that has made them one of the most popular groups in the ever-evolving world of contemporary jazz. Since 1981, this band of merry men has recorded 20 albums, more than 200 songs and has moved and grooved audiences from every corner of the world. To commemorate their monumental achievement of having survived a myriad of changes in jazz as a whole, the Yellowjackets are celebrating their birthday with a new live CD/DVD effort entitled Twenty Five. The new offering takes a retrospective look at many of the tunes they have recorded during their time together; in addition, the release is their fifth CD for Heads Up International.
Recorded in France and Italy, Twenty Five splits modern day jazz right down the middle, especially in the area where contemporary styles of the 1970s ebb and flow into modern day smooth jazz stylized instrumentals. Although founding members Robben Ford and William Kennedy left the original group some years agp, Yellowjacket members in keyboardist Russell Ferrante and bassist Jimmy Haslip have done a superb job of keeping their vision together. As one examines the history of the group, their style of music falls somewhere between mainstream jazz, R&B and pop initiatives. On top of all that, the Yellowjackets are the last of an uncompromising breed. They practice the art of improvised fusion oriented post bop funk, where each member of the band has an individual part to add to the collective. By all accounts, the Yellowjackets’ music contains a multi-faceted matrix of augmented notes that are capped by distinct rhythmic patterns and melodic inferences that are harmonically sensitive. Another consideration that makes Twenty Five a masterful work of art is the companion DVD, which adds a visual testimony to the Yellowjackets’ indelible career. Collectively, the CD combined with the DVD provides listeners with an overview that has stood the test of time for more than twenty five years.
When examining the massive contributions the Yellowjackets have made during their tenure together, jazz connoisseurs and fans of the group have seen them at their best as well as their worst. In recording Twenty Five, the beauty of the band’s longevity is found in their intertwining approach to their craft. They have encompassed and covered the rudiments of jazz cohesively and with introspective feeling. All in all, this latest album by the Yellowjackets is an awesome piece of work. In fact, if there is a retrospective to be gained, one need not worry because every thing that the Yellowjackets attempt to convey comes together with personal clarity and tightly knit precision.