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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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Yellowjackets – Cohearence

Bob Mintzer (tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, EWI, flute): Russell Ferrante (piano, synths): Dane Alderson (bass): Will Kennedy (drums, synths)

Recorded Conway Recording Studios, LA, CA, undated

MACK AVENUE MAC1108 [59:48]

 

 

 

 

 

Golden State

Guarded Optimism

Anticipation

Inevitable Outcome

Trane Changing

Eddie’s In the House

Fran’s Scene

Child’s Play

Shenandoah

Coherence

 

Bob Mintzer is a busy man. He has a new disc out with his LA band on Fuzzy Music, which I’ll be reviewing soon, and here he is on Mack Avenue with his Yellowjackets. Young Australian bassist Dane Alderson is the newcomer to the quartet.

This ten-song recital is full of good things. Golden State is a sinuously lyrical swinger, a vehicle for Mintzer’s ever-articulate, rhythmically supple leadership. His quicksilver playing over a walking bass and piano line inaugurates Guarded Optimism with an ease of utterance that proves beguiling. Russell Ferrante takes a thoughtful, sensitive piano introduction on Anticipation that is almost Jarrett-like, whilst Mintzer’s understated tenor lights and shades the pianist’s opus. Trane Changing is a kind of refraction of Coltrane’s Giant Steps, opening wth a rather romantically infused piano introduction.

There’s a funky Eddie’s in the House, its laid back groove enhanced by the tenor man’s precision and engaging vibrancy and by the rolling piano lines. Grooving high, Fran’s Scene generates some blues-rich aura in a more languid kind of way, whereas Child’s Play is an example of lyric Bop, with an especially fine Mintzer solo. Variety of theme and texture, and changes of mood, are inherent in a selection such as this and Mintzer is too canny not to avail himself of the opportunities for contrast. Sample the way Shenandoah is played, a slow ballad beautifully intoned by Mintzer over supple piano underpinning. The leader doesn’t unleash his soprano sax or bass clarinet very often – he does also chip in with flute – but he does play the soprano on the last track, Coherence, where Ferrante’s pianism proves quirky and ear-catching.

Here’s another fine example of this first-rate band in action.

Jonathan Woolf



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