Interview with Jazz Legends – the Yellowjackets!
Ronnie Scott’s, www.ronniescotts.co.uk, the venerable jazz institution in London, and the oldest jazz club in the world, provided the setting for an extraordinary evening of jazz with the American jazz band, the Yellowjackets, www.yellowjackets.com, in November 2004. The Yellowjackets are held in such high regard by other jazz musicians, that the night that we were there, the club was packed with other musicians paying homage to the band, including Andy Drudy, guitarist, Neal Richardson, jazz pianist, as well as Producer of Splash Point Records, www.splashpointrecords.com, and his wife, Sue Richardson, a jazz saxophone player and singer, (Edward’s review of Sue’s release, Out of a Song, may be found in the article Cyprus via London in Music Scene section). Ronnie Scott’s club has black ceilings, a black wall behind the band to focus attention on the musicians, and white painted brick walls which are covered with photographs of jazz greats who have appeared at the club since it opened in 1959. In addition to listening to great jazz, I also had the opportunity to meet with the band between sets and interview the band members, which are Jimmy Haslip, bass, Russell Ferrante, keyboards, Bob Mintzer, Sax and Marcus Baylor, drums.
The band’s first set consisted of several excellent numbers including Freda, a departure from jazz, followed by a bluesy number, Statue of Liberty, which Russell Ferrante wrote, which was a free-spirited piece that was well-executed and that captured the spirit and artistry of each of the talented musicians, and Mofango, named after a Puerto Rican dish.
During the interview, I learned that their latest project, Altered State, with a cover designed by the artist, Peter Max, is due out on March 25, 2005, which makes this their 19th release. Of their 18 releases they received 11 Grammy Awards nominations and 2 Grammy Awards. In their free time, the band members have also done several other projects, including Jimmy Haslip’s first solo project Arc, which was released in 1993, his second release Red Heat, which was released in 2000, and he is presently working on a third project, which like Red Heat has a Latin beat. Jimmy is also the producer on Rita Coolidge’s latest release and is producing a Hendrick’s tribute with Gary Novak on drums. Bob has a new Bob Mintzer Big Band release out, (he has about 20 Bob Mintzer Big Band releases), Marcus has also been busy performing with Josh Redman’s Elastic Band, and Russell has been keeping busy writing, arranging and producing. It’s amazing that these guys ever get a minute of sleep with their heavy schedules.
For their second set, they opened with Capetown, which is a fabulous piece that I really enjoyed, followed by Run for your Life, which was an extremely cohesive piece, before slowing down a bit for Song for Carla. Revelation really showcased Bob and Russell’s talent. Jimmy, who plays his bass like a lead guitar, is absolutely amazing as his fingers fly so fast at times that he almost sets the strings on fire, and Marcus, who is the newest member of the Yellowjackets, demonstrates that he fits right in.
© March 2005. Luxury Experience. www.luxuryexperience.com All rights reserved.