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The Yellowjackets are an American jazz fusion quartet.
The original group, called The Robben Ford Group, was formed in 1977, and consisted of Robben Ford, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip and Ricky Lawson. Ford had originally assembled the group to record Inside Story, but signed to a separate record contract, ended up listed as a guest artist. Eventually he was replaced by saxophone player Marc Russo. Ricky Lawson left in 1986 to tour with Lionel Richie. Some of their songs were featured on The Weather Channel's Local On The 8s segments. Although sometimes grouped with Spyro Gyra, the Yellowjackets are actually one of the most creative regular groups in the "rhythm & jazz" genre.
Founded in 1981 as an R&B-oriented band that starred guitarist Robben Ford, the group took a giant step forward when, after Ford's departure, altoist Marc Russo took his place. With original members Russell Ferrante on keyboards and electric bassist Jimmy Haslip, in addition to drummer William Kennedy, the band found its own R&B-ish sound, sometimes playing original compositions that sounded like Joe Zawinul at his most melodic. Starting out on Warner Brothers in the early '80s, the Yellowjackets moved to MCA/GRP in 1986, where they released a string of well-received albums.
They also appeared with two songs on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
In the '90s, Russo chose to go out on his own, 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.