Picks and Pans Review: Samurai Samba
An L.A.-based fusion band as alluring and gifted as the Pat Metheny Group, Stuff or Spyro Gyra, the Yellowjackets have turned out their most tasty and sustained set on this, their third album. The band's original members—keyboardist Russell Ferrante, drummer Ricky Lawson and bassist Jimmy Has-lip—are all venerable session men. Now they have added alto saxophonist Marc Russo, formerly of Tower of Power. The resultant style is as crisp as newly minted currency, and it sounds like a million. The album's eight tracks range from the neatly syncopated Homecoming to Los Mambos, with its shimmering riff. Russo really tears up the old pea patch on Lonely Weekend, which also features guest vocalist Bobby Caldwell employing some Stevie Wonder-like phrasing. The prettiest of the tracks is Daddy's Gonna Miss You, which has a stirring central theme. The Yellowjackets' arrangements are, once again, tightly marshaled. And their energy level is high enough that it would be appropriate to label their music either fusion or fission. (Warner Bros.)
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