Without any hint of variation from their previous releases, the Yellowjackets once again unveil the mysteries from within their explorative soundscape to create an ambience that is brilliantly illustrated with each stroke of genius on their latest masterpiece titled Altered State.” Composer, keyboardist and co-producer Russell Ferrante summons his gifted and talented bandmates (Mintzer, Baylor & Haslip) back into the studio to compose and infuse their provocative spirits into eleven identifiable and accessible tunes that further stabilizes their buoyant presence and trademark sound at the forefront of contemporaryjazz. 


The Players: Bob Mintzer, Marcus Baylor, Jimmy Haslip, guest performance by Jean Baylor also vocalist The Perri Sisters, percussionists Mike Shapiro and Russell Ferrante. Produced by Ferrante, Haslip, Mintzer and Baylor for Heads Up International © 2005


Once again, Jacket fans worldwide will find themselves mystified by the brilliance of the planets hottest contemporary jazz group. The opening track “Suite 15” penned by keyboardist and co-producer Russell Ferrante employs earlier ingredients (African rhythms, gospel and jazz) has made their residency as prominent voices in today’s jazz distinctive and certainly successful as a band. Ferrante works the keys splendidly on this infectious Gospel influenced composition with grace and seriously bonafide chops!


Saxophonist Bob Mintzer pens the next selection titled “March Majestic.” This is the first of many contributions to this project by him. “March” has a catchy reggae bounce at the beginning that’s wrapped by polyrhythmic syncopation and harmony! As always this ensembles trademark solos and interplay are absolutely flawless!


Guest vocalists Jean Baylor (wife of drummer Marcus Baylor) draws vocal inspiration from the Church on “The Hope”, with background vocal support by the gifted Perri Sisters (Sharon, Lori, Carolyn and Darlene). “The Hope” is co-written by Ferrante, Baylor & Baylor. The inclusion of the Perri Sisters bridges the gap with their near perfect harmonies to this anointed selection pouring out their hearts and souls with inspiring angelic voices of the Gospel.


Technically the Yellowjackets raise the bar of excellence with each new voyage. Ferrante composes another magical moment with “Hunter’s Point.” This track is melodically and rhythmically a jewel incognito. The complexities driven by Baylor’s drumming underneath deserve several re-listens. At this point of transition “Hunter’s Point” is definitely my favorite piece!


Mintzer, scores another work of art titled “Mother Earth”. The penetrating rhythms and roaring harmonics are at the center of their heartfelt communion of camaraderie. This demonstrates the sheer musical brilliance and artistry of “Altered State,” which is a signature of an ever-evolving work of artistry in continual motion.


Co-founder and bassist of the Jackets, Mr. Jimmy Haslip scores the next selection (and his only one) on the project titled “Youth Eternal.” Jimmy digs deep by embracing the influential Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report), to bring forth to center stage the dynamics of fusion into the equation. The playing is exciting, skillful and forceful. Henceforth, beckoning the listener to pay attention the details of their sonically offbeat and shifting magnetic grooves.


“Free Day,” written by drummer Marcus Baylor takes the doubters on an authentic musical journey, into another time and place. The quartet burns with symmetry and cohesiveness that only seasoned players are able to accomplish.


Seriously folks, if you have a pacemaker, or any other health related problems you might want to reframe from listening to the next Mintzer pen composition titled “Cross Current” at slightly higher volume. Mintzer defies the odds by taking you on grueling pleasure driven escapade like never before!


“Aha,” scored by Bob Mintzer is jazzier then the pervious selections that he’s written so far on this project. Once again our senses tells us the music on “Altered State” is primetime and deliciously supreme! It’s an intelligent off spring of their prior recordings yet, they’re music and artistic qualities exceed their diverse panoramic soundscape.


“57 Chevy” written by Russell Ferrante falls into the 10th spot on “Altered State.” Melodically this cut fits well in and outside of their exemplary musical landscape of prowess and distinction.


“Unity,” co-composed by Baylor and Mintzer is the last of eleven tracks on “Altered State.” It is somewhat on the dark, bluesy and moody side. Yet, as always the Jackets take you on an emotional and thought provoking musical adventure, while thrusting you forward into one of they’re most prolific journeys to date. Wow, where do they go from here? The music on “Altered State” will leave you breathless!


Legendary painter, pop artist and fan of the Yellowjackets Peter Max’s artwork graces the cover of “Altered State.” (Max’s artwork also inspired the title of the cd) What a fascinating statement to make artistically by fusing the best of both worlds. Compositionally the Yellowjackets music fits perfectly well within the compass of their own genuine voice of creativity and explorations as an ensemble. Great music by a unique cast of musicians is what you get with “Altered State.” Please if you will, do your ears a favor, purchase it now, and listen (repeatedly) savoring this tasty collection of innovative and spirit driven contemporary jazz for years to come!






q       Visit the Yellowjackets and listen too samples at their spot in cyberspace: http://www.yellowjackets.com/

q       Purchase “Altered State” at fine music stores everywhere.