I went and saw the Yellowjackets with a bunch of music friends/profs from Butler. I got a lot of inspiration from the polished hits and electrified sounds of Russell Ferrante and Will Kennedy and the rest of the Yellowjackets. They played songs from their latest album Coherence and older hits like Shades and Timeline. I was really impressed by the way the band transitioned so smoothly from one feel to another. Sometimes there would be a really clear four beat hit from the drums with sparse playing from the bassist, and in an instant that mood blended with a newer, busier one that was more abstract and colorful in sound. Bob Mintzer explained during the concert that the Yellowjackets draw musical influence from all walks of life: including straight ahead jazz, world, fusion, funk, and soul music. To hear the product of such diverse influences really left an impression on me that will help me not only with compositions but with how I look at music I’m performing too. I think all too often musicians, especially those who incorporate improvisation into their music, lock themselves into a box of same-old same-old arrangements and ideas that they beat to death with every song. The Yellowjackets’ really showed me how collaborating musicians can be creative in more things than just improvising. Being creative in arranging rhythmic hits, reharmonizations, almost anything can take a song to the next level and make it more than just a standard with the normal head/solos/head out arrangement that improvisers are used to, which is something that listeners can hang onto and really like in a song. I got a lot of really good ideas and inspiration out of this concert, and the whole thing was a really great experience. Their website is here and their latest album Coherence has been out for a year and they’re still selling signed copies to ship!