Since the release of their debut album on Warner Brothers in 1981, Yellowjackets have gone through a series of evolutionary changes. One thing has always stayed the same - performing worldwide for enthusiastic audiences and placing high on the charts.
Originally brought together in 1977 to back up guitarist Robben Ford on his solo debut album, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Ricky Lawson recognized a musical affinity with each other and began to forge their own identity. Soon afterward, Yellowjackets was born.
After two very successful albums, the self-titled debut and 'Mirage a Trois,' with Ford as guest, the members pursued separate projects, reassembling in 1984 for the Playboy Jazz Festival. With the addition of saxophonist Marc Russo as lead voice and percussionist Paulinho De Costa, the group continued to grow in popularity and acclaim, winning their first Grammy in 1985 for 'Shades' on MCA.
Moving into a jazzier realm with 1987’s 'Four Corners,' Lawson departed shortly thereafter for Lionel Richie’s band and was replaced by William Kennedy. This moved them into still new territory as they began exploring denser textures and world beats. 1988’s 'Politics' won them their second Grammy and their follow-up release, 'The Spin,' focused on acoustic Jazz, a trend that continued through Russo’s departure and his replacement with noted arranger and saxman Bob Mintzer.
In 1995, they returned to Warner Brothers and produced three more
recordings, 'Dreamland,' 'Blue Hats' and 'Club Nocturne,' featuring guest vocalists Kurt Elling, Jonathan Butler and Brenda Russell.
Today, the Yellowjackets include Mintzer, Ferrante and Haslip along with Peter Erskine, their new drummer who cut his chops with one of the great fusion groups, Weather Report.