Mint Jam

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This set differs from most of the Yellowjackets' previous recordings in several ways: It is a two-CD set, it has not been released by a major record company but instead has been put out by the group's own private label, and the music overall emphasizes straight-ahead jazz and dynamic solos. In fact, it contains some of the best solos on record by tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer and keyboardist Russell Ferrante. With electric bassist Jimmy Haslip inspiring the lead voices and taking occasional solos, while the band's newest member, drummer Marcus Baylor, keeps the ensembles stimulating, the group performs a dozen songs, all of which are originals by Ferrante (who emphasizes his own acoustic piano playing), Haslip, and/or Mintzer. Whether it be the catchy "Boomtown," "Blues for KJ," "Song for Carla," or "Statue of Liberty," the Yellowjackets show that they are one of the most vital groups in contemporary jazz, even after 20 years. The high-quality improvisations, the appealing group sound, and the diverse but consistently satisfying originals make this one of the Yellowjackets' strongest releases.

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