The Yellowjackets at Yoshi's, with the Sandro Albert Trio
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Jackie Payne was already a Grammy-nominated veteran blues singer when he began performing with acclaimed blues guitarist Steve Edmonson. The two share a love for the blues and for the lost art of performance that makes each concert exciting and full of energy. Payne's live shows often match the fervor and intensity of a fire and brimstone gospel revival, while Edmonson's melodic guitar playing channels legends such as B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan and T-Bone Walker. Learn More
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- Check out the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.yellowjackets.com/">Yellowjackets</a> and opening act <a target="_blank" href="http://www.sandroalbert.com/">Sandro Albert</a> at their websites.
In 1977, Robben Ford assembled a group of veteran session musicians to record his album The Inside Story. The trio of musicians, which included keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Ricky Lawson, soon discovered a certain "chemistry" and musical affinity that led to their formation of Yellowjackets. The Inside Story being mainly instrumental, Robben Ford's record label wanted him to record another album that was more pop and vocal oriented. The group, known as the Robben Ford Group, preferred to pursue the instrumental route, and a "band within a band" was formed. This same group with Robben Ford on guitar recorded digital demos that were eventually accepted by Warner Brothers, and Yellowjackets was born. While Robben's contributions would diminish over the years to being a guest artist, the group known as Yellowjackets would flourish.
Their debut album Yellowjackets made serious waves in jazz radio, garnering public and critical acclaim. Mirage A Trois followed in its footsteps. While they went on a brief hiatus to pursue other projects, they reassembled in time for the 1984 Playboy Jazz Festival, adding percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and their new lead voice, sax man Marc Russo. This landmark concert paved the way for their eventual success both on the Billboard Jazz charts and concert venues around the world, and resulted in the third spicy Yellowjackets album Samurai Samba. 1986 saw the group moving over to MCA Records to record Shades, the title track being written by Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan fame) as a tribute to the many "shades" he heard in the group's music.
In the '90s, Russo chose to go out on his own and plays regularly with The Doobie Brothers, and his replacement, Bob Mintzer (on tenor and bass clarinet), added more jazz credibility to the group's music. They moved back to Warner Brothers in 1995 for several albums before moving the Heads Up label for the live two-CD set Mint Jam in 2002. 2003 saw the release of their first studio album in five years, Time Squared. Three years later, the band celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary as an ensemble with the release of the live album Twenty Five.
In May 2008, the Yellowjackets released their 20th release, Lifecycle, also on HeadsUp International. Lifecycle features guitarist and label-mate Mike Stern, making it the first Yellowjackets record in 15 years to feature guitar (1994's Run For Your Life featured Robben Ford on the track Even Song). The album was nominated for the 2009 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Russell Ferrante has also been nominated in the category of Best Instrumental Composer for the track "Claire's Closet."