Yellowjackets Featuring Mike Stern -
are collaborations in Jazz, which are so energetic and creative that one
can ask, why the involved musicians haven't played together earlier
before. One of these outstanding collaborations is definitely the new
release of the Yellowjackets for the HeadsUp International Label featuring
guitar virtuoso Mike Stern.
Lifecycle is the first Yellowjackets recording in 15 years to
feature a guitar player and from the very first moment on, you will
notice, that this is one of the most outstanding Jazz records of the year
The Yellowjackets, two-time Grammy winners and Mike Stern, the four-time
Grammy nominee performed together at the Montreal Jazz Festival in the
summer of 2007 and worked so well together that they decided to make an
album. The quintet will hit the road later in the year for a series of
U.S. and European tour dates.
The Yellowjackets have now played together for over 25 years and still are
one of the most important groups in the genre of Jazz. Bobby McFerrin says
about them: “The Yellowjackets are an essential part of my musical life.
Their music ALWAYS travels with me.” This says enough about their position
in international Jazz.
Mike Stern, who studied at the well-known Berklee School in Boston,
belongs to the rare species of contemporary jazz musicians, who had the
honour to play in one of Miles Davis' bands. He also played with David
Sanborn, Bob Berg, The Brecker Brothers and created thirteen Solo-Albums.
Stern's guitar playing not seldom goes to extremes. On the one hand he is
able to create wild noise-cascades in an expressive manner, on the other
hand he's also able to create lyrical quasi-impressionistic sounds on his
guitar. This man handles every musical style perfectly.
The CD starts with a Bob Mintzer composition called Falken's Maze,
an energetic and very complex piece, where every musician shows his great
ability on his instrument. Mintzer also contributes the rhythmically
intricate Yahoo and the easygoing I Wonder. Stern's playing
on all three tracks fits so perfectly to the sound, so that it seems, that
he has been a member of the band for many years.
Mike Stern himself contributes two songs to the album, the syncopated and
playful Double Nickel and Dreams Go, a really wonderful
melodic ballad. Both songs show, that he's not only a gifted guitarist but
also a very talented songwriter.
Keyboardist Russell Ferrante composed two songs for the album, the
introspective Measure Of Man with a very beautiful melody of Bob
Mintzer's saxophone, and Claire's Closet. The piano intro of this
piece reminds a little bit of Chick Corea's Children's Songs. Mintzer's
bass clarinet gives the whole piece a warm and playful sound.
Bassist Jimmy Haslip's contribution to the album are the cool grooving
Country Living with an expressive solo of Mike Stern and also the
atmospheric Lazaro, co-written by Bob Mintzer.
Drummer Marcus Baylor shows the diversity of his drumming in all
compositions. His playing is solid as a rock and colorizes the songs in a
very subtle manner.
So this new record of the Yellowjackets is not only another of these
numerous releases in Jazz, it's definitely one of the best. It's a
wonderful journey into Jazzmusic, presented by five exceptional musicians.
Really highly recommendable!
© Mr. M.
1. Falken's Maze
2. Country Living
3. Double Nickel
4. Dreams Go
5. Measure Of A Man
7. I Wonder
8. 3 Circles
9. Claire's Closet
Lifecycle (HUCD 3141)
Mike Stern - guitar
Russell Ferrante - piano / keyboards
Bob Mintzer - sax / Ewi
Jimmy Haslip - el. bass
Marcus Baylor - drums
Worldwide Release Date: May 20, 2008