WBGO Radar

Yellowjackets: Cohearance

Yellowjackets, Jazz, Radar, WBGO, quartet, Cohearance, Coltrane, 35 years

When a relationship celebrates 35 years it's a BIG DEAL! When it's a musical relationship it results in sonic synergy, unity, harmony and balance which fulfills the intent of the musicians and delights the ears of the listener. For the Yellowjackets, and their members - Russ Ferrante on piano & synths, William Kennedy on drums & synths, Bob Mintzer on tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, EWI & flute, and newest member, electric bassist Dane  Alderson the latest recording, "Cohearence" is full of all the grooves which had the early fans drawn to the hybrid mix of fusion, jazz and R&B, to today's eclectic mix of jazz funk, folk, even chamber jazz. As the band members say about this point in their musical lives, "it's striking that we can say so much about our musical ambitions. It's all about the integration of the many parts into a coherent whole." Ferrante's piano dances alongside Mintzer's tenor on the opening track, "Golden State". The up tempo "Guarded Optimism" has the group throwing each other inspiration and caution to the wind, led by Mintzer who wrote the tune.
Other highlights include "Trane Changing", a clever reworking of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", showing that regardless of the setting, this band can swing! Australian Dane Alderson's electric bass work moves. Although it's not stated, it's obvious from the first notes that Russ Ferrante's "Eddie's In The House" is a funk filled nod to sax great Eddie Harris, a jacket with a great fit in any color. Drummer Will Kennedy's "Fran's Scene" shows how the spirit of electric and acoustic come together to make things happen. Bob Mintzer arranged the traditional "Shenandoah" gives a gorgeous read of this evergreen. The beautiful melody intact, the group looks back to play it forward. The title track, "Cohearence", with it's chamber jazz feel, shows how this group has advanced it's sound over time.

About this place in the Yellowjackets evolving, Russ Ferrante says, "There's a lot of gratitude. It's never been a given to us that we'd continue to be able to have the opportunity to write and record for such a length of time. But you couldn't have that in place unless you had a band of generous, giving musicians, none of whom  have ever been ego'ed out."
Listening to each other while creating a hip listen for us. "Cohearence" comes out April 22 on Mack Avenue Records. The band celebrates the new recording beginning April 19 for four nights at Birdland in New York.

- Gary Walker, Morning Jazz

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