The 40 Year Anniversary Tour
Yellowjackets are an American jazz fusion quartet. They are now in that rarefied category of jazz bands that lasted over 40 years with at least one original member, a lineup that includes the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Sun Ra Arkestra.
Over the last 40 years and 25 albums, they have recorded high-energy jazz/pop fusion, a film soundtrack, all-acoustic recordings, straight-ahead swinging jazz, gospel, and even some chamber jazz that wouldn’t sound out of place on ECM. All the while, they have done what a “real” jazz band should do — they have stayed true to their core identity and group sound while keeping up with contemporary styles. The group celebrates their 40th anniversary by adding a big band to their list of genre explorations.
Some skeptics didn’t give the Yellowjackets a chance to survive, but here it is 35 years later—hardly trailing the segmented 40-year longevity of MJQ—and the group stretches its impressive longevity by continuing to evolve artistically with its third Mack Avenue Records recording, Coherence. With two founding members—pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante and drummer Will Kennedy—and its long-time reeds player Bob Mintzer (a Jacket since 1990) and a brand-new virtuoso electric bassist, Australia-born Dane Alderson, the Yellowjackets cover a range of jazz flavours, including a rousing Weather Report jazz fusion vibe, a swinging switch-up on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” a moving rendition of a folk song classic, a funky soul-jazz excursion and a chamber jazz-like grace in the album end-song, Coherence.