World of Slick Music – Yellowjackets


Hi again!

Today’s Sunday and for some of us that means going to church, no worries not gonna try convince you become a Christian have no such intentions what so ever thou i can’t promise i won’t post any more like gospel songs!                                      Are we clear where we stand now? 😉                                                                                                                                             So what music do you in general think of as “church music”, me i’d say Gospel maybe you would as well.

Now wait a minute here aren’t you suppose to write about so called “slick music” and gospel doesn’t feels especially “slick” to me! Hello!                                                                                                                                                                               The average idea of gospel music for some might be a “happy clappy mass choir” and not saying it’s wrong to think so or that a happy clappy mass choir is wrong at all. However a such choir isn’t especially slick so it might seem i’m out on deep water here lol.
Gospel music today is not just a “happy clappy mass choir” or a choir at all at least not according to me. There are gospel-soul, gospel-jazz etc etc.
Since i mentioned gospel jazz it leads us to today’s artist called Yellowjackets which isn’t a gospel group but more jazz/fusion.
However one of their most popular and perhaps most known songs have a certain gospel vibe.

The band goes back to late 70:s first under the name the “Robben Ford group” and consisted at that time of  Robben Ford (guitar, vocals), Russell Ferrante (keyboards), Jimmy Haslip (bass) and Ricky Lawson (drums). All these guys were established top notch session players in L.A.

This is the first line up of Jackets, left to right: Jimmy Haslip, Russell Ferrante, Robben Ford, Ricky Lawson.

The first album they released with this setting was The Inside Story” thou it was under Robben Ford’s name in 1979 and the sound at this time was like a mix of blues, jazz-fusion, progressive rock with the vocals of Robben.                                      Over the next year things began to change from beeing a more like “Robben Ford project” to a more democratic way with less vocals and more instrumental and commerical jazz-funk. The band signed with Electra Records and now under the name Yellowjackets the first album was released.                                                                                                                   Since Robben himself had a contract with another label he wasn’t mentioned as a offical member but as guest artist.

When their next album was released there was no more robben but a new saxplayer called Richard Elliot but he only played on a few tracks of the album and later he switch place with former Tower of Power saxman Marc Russo. Now the band started to get more famous and the era with Marc on alto sax is by far their best. Man once you hear his alto sax you can’t get enough! He is my absolutely favorite alto sax player thou he plays tenor as well.

Left to right:Marc Russo, Will Kennedy, Jimmy Haslip, Russell Ferrante.

This is the classic and best line up of the band if you ask me thou they had chaged drummer since Ricky left to join Lionel Richie on tour. New drummer here was Will Kennedy.

Before leaving the band in 1986  Ricky was featured on the album called “Shades” and on this album we find their perhaps most famous song “Revelation” which is the one i mentioned earlier. Thou Ricky had already left the band when the 1987:s Grammy Award took place he still one a Grammy for “Best R&B Instrumental  Performance” for the song “And you know that“.

Saxman Marc Russo stayed until sometime 1990 before he went on with other projects mostly with The Doobie Brothers and new member became another saxman Bob Mintzer who has made many records before and during his time with the Jackets and he also has his own big band. He plays tenor sax and occasionally bass clarinet. When he came the band kinda changed direction and sound which is natural. On the pic below is the perhaps 2nd classic line up with Bob Mintzer on the left at the pic.

Left to right:Bob Mintzer, Will Kennedy, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip.

Next member to leave was drummer Will Kennedy who felt it was time to move on thou it wasn’t some bad break up they all remained friends. His replacer became a quite young guy who first started playing in church and was called Marcus Baylor. He remained with the band between 2000 – 2010 when a certain drummer called Will Kennedy made comeback!                    There was a gap when Will left in 1999 and before Marcus joined in 2000 so they had to have some drummer and those who like subbed was Peter Erskine and Terri Lyne Carrington both are some bad cats! Then in 2012 bass player Felix Pastorius announced on his Facebook page that he now was a “Jacket” meaning he has replaced Jimmy Hasplip.

Left to right: Will Kennedy, Russell Ferrante, Felix Pastorius, Bob Mintzer and this is today’s line up.                                         So back to the song i picked have a kinda funny story behind it.

When i was younger the youth choir in church sang a song called “Revelation” and my brother used to play sax when they sang it. Many many years later i was looking after my parents dog while they were on vaccation and found an lp with a band called…Yellowjackets! Immediately realized it was something my brother had left behind and i played it and lt was love at first hearing big time! Come on it was Marc Russo!                                                                                                                               Sometime later when visiting a record store i was checking on the letter “Y” under jazz and kept looking not thinking i wound find anything.

I was browsing quite fast when i thought i just saw a cd with Jackets it was like in old cartoons, stop and rewind the tape and there was this album called “Shades” with a song called “Revelation”.                                                                                          My first thougt was the song the choir sang and i thought “hm…could it possibly be that one?!” so when the song started it sounded familliar and when the vocals came it was the Revelation song! I told my brother about it and he admitted he had “cribed” Marc’s solo!

Here comes Revelation with Yellowjackets featuring Lori Perri and the Perri Sisters on vocals and i dedicate it to Ricky Lawson who left us December 23 2013. Such a tragedy for his family just before Christmas. R.I.P. Ricky.                                   Anyway enjoy your listening!


#worldofslickmusic, #yellowjackets, #robbenford, #russellferrante, #jimmyhaslip, #rickylawson, #elektrarecords, #richardelliot, #towerofpower #marcrusso, #lionelrichie  #willkennedy,, #doobiebrothers, #bobmintzer, #marcusbaylor, #petererskine, #terrilynecarrington, #felixpastorius, #loriperri, #perrisisters


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