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The Yellowjackets – Pioneers in Jazz Fusion

The Band Within a Band

In 1977, Robben Ford brought together musicians of a veteran caliber to record, The Inside Story. This group consisted of keyboardist Russell Ferrante,  bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Ricky Lawson. The group, including Robben Ford., that discovered a "chemistry" in their primarily instrumental sound. A sound that Robben's record company felt needed more pop and vocal influence. This is when the "band within a band" was formed, and the Yellowjackets were born.


The group burst onto the jazz radio scene with their debut album, Yellowjackets. The album garnered both public and critic acclaim. Shortly after this album, Mirage A Trois was released. Being an independent and pioneering group, the Yellowjackets took a brief hiatus to pursue other projects but reassembled to play the 1984 Playboy Jazz Festival, bringing in percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and new lead voice & sax player Marc Russo. This concert led the way for their success on the Billboard Jazz charts and concert venues around the world and resulted in their third album, Samurai Samba.

New Record Label, New Drummer

1968 had the band switching over to MCA Records and recording Shade with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan. As their next album Four Corners rolled out, Ricky Lawson rolled off to tour with Lionel Richie. He was replaced by versatile drummer, William Kennedy. While staying true to their majorly instrumental sound, the Yellowjacketsdecided to explore new beats and soundscapes, giving us the album Politics.

Let's Fast Foward A Little...

All the way to 1995! The band has had new artists join and legacy members break away. The band now consisted of a new sax man, Bob Mintzer, and were signed back with Warner Brother's to release their album DreamlandDreamland was followed by a more spontaneous album, Blue Hats, showing an evolved sound from the band, more musically rich than their prior albums. From this point and into the year 2000, the band would lose Erskine, but not before releasing an album full of crossovers with jazz greats like Kurt Elling (coming to the Folly Theater on March 9th) and Jonathan Butler. They were back to a trio Russell, Jimmy, and Bob bringing in drummers as they traveled for shows. In 2001, the band self-released the pivotal live Mint Jam recording, with Marcus Baylor (one of the regular, stand-in drummers while they toured). They then signed a deal with HeadsUp International label and released Time Squared, followed by Peace Round (a holiday album), and Altered State. 2011 saw the return of Will Kennedy to the Jackets, and a move to the Mack Avenue Records label for the recording Timeline. Founding member Jimmy Haslip would go on hiatus with the Jackets in 2012, and 2013 saw the addition of bassist Felix Pastorius to the group for the recording A Rise In The Road. In late 2015, bassist Dane Alderson joined the group and recorded with the Jackets on 2016’s Cohearance.


The Yellowjackets, on another tour, have released their newest album, Raising Our Voice, with features the vocalist Luciana Souza.

The Yellowjackets at the Folly Theater

Friday, January 18th at 8 PM

JazzTalk with Gerald Dunn at 7 PM


The masters of jazz fusion, The Yellowjackets, are bringing their collective experience and unique sound to the Folly stage on January 18th! Don't miss their return to Kansas City and the Folly theater.


Tickets are still available at, by calling 816-474-4444, or visiting our Box Office between 10 AM to 5 PM on Monday through Friday

Tickets are $20, $30, $40, and $55