Mike Stern

The Yellowjackets have been around for just over thirty years, and, coincidentally, their albums have bored me for just as long. So I was surprised when "Double Nickel" and "Dreams Go," a couple of tunes from the group's latest album, Lifecycle, turned out to be well above average — at least until I saw that they were both penned by guest guitarist Mike Stern, who joins the 'jackets on stage tonight. Stern earned mainstream attention during the early '80s as the young ax-wielder in Miles Davis's band, and while many critics initially dismissed him as a poor man's John McLaughlin, he's gone on to a thoroughly respectable career thanks to his skill at injecting the spirit of adventure into jazz's most commercial forms. Who Let the Cats Out?, Stern's solo release from a couple of years back, is more consistently enjoyable than Lifecycle. Nonetheless, making the Yellowjackets worth hearing in 2008 is an achievement in and of itself.

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