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Interview:
Yellowjackets Happy Despite Grammy Shutout
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

The Yellowjackets went 0-for-2 at this year’s Grammy Awards, but the group isn’t crying about walking away emptyhanded.

“We were happy to get the nomination,” saxophonist Bob Mintzer says of what were actually two nods, Best Contemporary Jazz Album and Best Instrumental Composition from its 2008 album “Lifecycle.”

“We felt good about the record. It’s a really nice record, so we were just really glad to have that acknowledgment from the Grammy people.

“That means someone’s listening to it and appreciates what we’re doing.”

“Lifecycle” certainly warranted the attention. Collaborating with Mike Stern, it marked the first time the quartet has worked with a guitarist in 15 years, which Mintzer says was a refreshing experience.

“Mike is a really energetic player,” Mintzer notes. “I think we all wrote tunes that really incorporated that element. I think a lot of the music on this CD is more high-energy than we typically do, which was a lot of fun. It really sort of upped the intensity level.”

But as much as group members enjoyed working with Stern, Mintzer expects the Yellowjackets — who were originally formed as the backing band for guitarist Robben Ford — to next work again in a quartet format.

“We don’t rule anything out,” explains Mintzer, who teaches at the University of Southern California and maintains several of his own musical projects. “But the Yellowjackets as an organization, and individually as well, is very much involved with trying to keep moving and changing and growing. I don’t foresee us doing the same thing twice.”



The Yellowjackets perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (March 6-7) at the Jazz Cafe at Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $27-47. Call (313) 887-8500 or visit www.musichall.org.

Web Site: www.musichall.org

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