Yellowjackets Team with WDR Big Band for “Jackets XL”
Yellowjackets has been at it since 1977 and released its debut album in 1981. Nearly forty years later, they went big with their 25th offering, entitled Jackets XL, which features the WDR Big Band of Cologne, Germany.
“This band has never been one to rest on its laurels,” says tenor saxophonist/EWI player Bob Mintzer. “The Yellowjackets are very adept at reinventing. The four of us are the most adaptable musicians I’ve ever worked with. Any setting, any style, we know we can do it. As for the WDR, they’re one of the best large jazz ensembles in the world. I knew the two groups would make for a nice marriage.”
The project features original songs from the band’s catalog reimagined into the hybrid combo/big band setting. Mintzer arranged most of the tunes, often penned by keyboardist and founder Russell Ferrante.
“Since we were already in the orbit of big bands, Bob suggested that we pick tunes that were fan favorites through the years and make them fresh to keep the listeners interested,” he said. “Bob rearranged ‘Mile High’ [Four Corners, 1987], which we had stopped playing in recent years. Bob changed it up and took it to different places. Another is ‘Revelation’ [Shades, 1986], which we always played as an encore. Bob went to the basics, bringing back the gospel roots, and arranged it for how we sound today.”
Jackets XL is the third to include Dane Alderson on the bass, who joined the fusion legends back in 2015. The big band setting was refreshing for him, as well. “The difference between playing between playing as a quartet versus a big band Is almost like brand new music to my ears,” he said. “It’s a whole new sound that’s refreshing and powerful.”
Check out Dane’s playing and nasty unison line on “One Day”:
Jackets XL Track List:
- Mile High
- The Red Sea
- Even Song
- One Day
- Tokyo Tale
- Imperial Strut