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The Yellowjackets | Lifecycle – [Music/Review]

The Yellowjackets - Lifecycle

The Yellowjackets - Lifecycle

As music aficionados and fans alike, we find ourselves, in a reactive mode sometimes as our thoughts, emotions and spirit often get entangled in the various nuances and directions our favorite artist venture into. Case in point, one of my jazz groups the Yellowjackets are back with their latest “Lifecycle,” on Heads Up International features fusion guitarist Mike Stern to breathe a lyrically fresh perspective into one of the most consistent voices in jazz.

On the opener, the punctual “Falken’s Maze,” is compositionally [Mintzer] and artistically within in the sphere of what we’ve come to expect from the Jackets timbre. No doubt, it was ingenious move on the behalf of the Jackets to call guitarist Mike Stern onboard, by adding his dexterity and the complexity of his voice to the mix is quite reminiscent of the Jackets 1981 self-titled debut album on Warner Brothers [featured blues man Robben Ford].

By now, as Jacket fans we know that the distinguished Jimmy Haslip is the fusion guy of this ensemble. Haslip ensures us that he is still on top of his game as the funky gospel infused “Country Living.” This gem spreads it wings with immeasurable dose of offbeat yet intoxicating layers of grooves that only the Jackets can deliver.

The next couple of tracks on hand are composed by axe-man Mike Stern, first up is “Double Nickel” which is a well-written piece that’s imaginative with swinging attributes looped over the top with authority. “Dreams Go” comes next, this is a subdued melodic arrangement, as Stern’s works the fret with notable superiority soon thereafter Minzter’s rich tenor evokes the warm and tempered tonality we’ve come to enjoy from him over the years.

The incomparable keyboardist, composer, arranger and producer Russ Ferrante adds his touch to the set with the “Measure of a Man.”  What a joy it is to see a title as this reflect the maturity of his expressive inner voice as a composer. As the song excels with a tone that is emotionally stimulating, yielding only to its own memorable melodies.

As one of the main contributors compositionally to the group since his arrival, Bob Mintzer continues to explore with abundance on an assorted repertoire of noteworthy songs, which includes two more essential tracks “Yahoo & I Wonder.” He also co-writes “3 Circles” with Ferrante, Haslip and Baylor.

This mesmerizing session of ten great songs concludes with the contagious “Lazaro,” which was co-written by Mintzer and Haslip, could be easily deemed as a Jacket classic. Jacket fans, please do not hesitate and pick this jewel up. You wont be sorry.

Lifecycle was released on May 20, 2008

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