Yellowjackets featuring Mike Stern – Lifecycle
| Yellowjackets featuring Mike Stern
Heads Up – 2008
“Lifecycle” is, in some respects, two albums in one. Seven of the ten tracks are quintet pieces featuring guitarist Mike Stern and the Jackets, while the remaining three are quartet pieces that showcase the individual and collective talents of the current Yellowjackets lineup: keyboardist Russell Ferrante, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Marcus Baylor. Whatever the combinations and permutations, it’s all good. Mintzer contributes three tracks: the energetic opener, “Falken’s Maze,” the rhythmically complex “Yahoo,” and the easygoing “I Wonder.”
After simmering for years, the idea for “Lifecycle” reached critical mass when Mike Stern and the Jackets performed together at the Montreal Jazz Festival in the summer of 2007. “We’ve all been a fan of Mike’s for a long time,” says Yellowjackets keyboardist and charter member Russell Ferrante. “Our goal was to make a recording that sounded like Mike had been in the band forever, and I think we accomplished that. To my ears, it feels cohesive – like five musicians with a genuine rapport.”
From the Montreal dates in the heat of the summer to the studio sessions in rural New York State in January 2008, Stern felt the same sense of rapport. “The Yellowjackets are a great band,” he says. “I think we have a lot in common musically, and our playing together felt very natural right away. They’re the ideal collaborative team. It’s so easy to play with them because they play so well together.”
The new collaborative recording by the Jackets and Stern, and the first Yellowjackets recording in 15 years to feature a guitar player, Lifecycle illustrates the kind of energy and creative brilliance that results when five talented players pool their individual talents as songwriters and musicians and merge into an entity that’s far greater than the sum of its parts.