Yellowjackets: Double Nickel
Yellowjackets featuring Mike Stern
Lifecycle (Heads Up HUCD 3139)
Bob Mintzer (tenor sax),
Russell Ferrante (piano, electric keyboards), Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), Marcus Baylor (drums), and special guest Mike Stern (guitar).
Composed by Mike Stern.
Recorded: Ossining, NY, January 2008
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Mike Stern performed with the Yellowjackets at the 2007 Montreal Jazz Festival, and on this CD becomes the first guitarist to record with them since Robben Ford 15 years ago. Stern admiited that some of the Yellowjackets' tunes "were a challenge for me … I don't usually play in odd time signatures." But one of the two compositions Stern brought to the session, "Double Nickel," is a funky, straight-ahead vehicle tailor-made for jamming, and the quintet attacks it with a vengeance.
Stern's jumpy, serpentine theme is handled in rousing fashion by him and by Mintzer's tenor, enhanced by Haslip's throbbing bass and Baylor's kicking backbeat. Stern solos with his usual deceptively light tone and fleet, crystalline single-note lines, a potent combination that ensures the success of his seamless fusion of jazz and rock elements. Mintzer follows forcefully with fresh and arresting phrasing, finally yielding to Ferrante's stimulating piano solo, which builds to Baylor's dynamic drum break and a scorching repeat of the opening theme by guitar and tenor. Stern will be touring with the Yellowjackets during the second half of 2008, and maybe it's time for the Yellowjackets to consider permanently adding a guitarist to the group once that tour is over. The instrument fits their concept to a tee, and adds a welcome new dimension.
Reviewer: Scott Albin