Yellowjackets Featuring Mike Stern - Lifecycle

There 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 2008.

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
6. Yahoo
7. I Wonder
8. 3 Circles
9. Claire's Closet
10. Lazaro

Lifecycle (HUCD 3141)

line up:
Mike Stern - guitar
Russell Ferrante - piano / keyboards
Bob Mintzer - sax / Ewi
Jimmy Haslip - el. bass
Marcus Baylor - drums

Worldwide Release Date: May 20, 2008