"Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts and God knows who all else, that's who. Look, if you take the purist schtick the whole nine yards, only Dixieland is true jazz. Which makes most of Marsalis' and Roberts' own material heresy of a sort. Back in the late '70s, rock'n'roll went through the same sort of lame-assed febrile episode ramrodded by the punk movement, and as such, it's only recently beginning to recover from a rather ugly sort of fascism that all but destroyed its entertainment value. Despite the putdown labels "smooth jazz" and "jazz lite" for groups like the Yellowjackets, this band delivers eminently listenable material, and this is a good place to start. Songs like the bouncy woodwind synth/ digital piano-driven "Bright Lights", which proves during the jam section that a bass part that does a staggered downbeat on the same note can still keep ya movin' (bassist Jimmy Haslip doesn't have to drown you in notes to show he's one of the best in the business). Or "The Dream", with Michael Franks on guest vocals (he took their instrumental "Local Hero" and put words to it). Or the African-influenced "Wild Life", which was the very first 'Jackets number I ever heard--it had me thinking they were a World Music outfit. Or the gospel number "Revelation", which is just as hand-clappin' and foot-stompin' as a gospel song should be. This bunch has a versatility not usually found in a group with only 4 pieces--and to think they started out as a session band for a Robben Ford album! Don't be put off by the jazz snobs and avoid this band--I ignored the rock'n'roll snobs 20 years ago and ended up with a record collection that's insurance against boredom Met Life couldn't hope to underwrite."
Bruno | Niteroi, RJ Brazil | 05/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I wish I could have been at the Roxy L.A. in november 1991. This is one of the best (if not THE best) Yellowjackets album. The performance is really touching and thrilling plus, better yet, it's live. I can listen to it over and over again it never gets boring. By the way, to the saxophone players, Bob Mintzer was very inspired at this concert. A+++ Title."
B. K. Parker | Cape Town | 12/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is an excellent summary of the Yellowjackets earlier years. The only thing missing was the Blues/fusion guitar of Robin Ford. Nevertheless, the live renditions of past classics is nothing short of breath-taking, with Bob Mintzer passionately leading the way on all-time favourites Geraldine, Wildlife and Freedomland. Indeed the true potential of the former two tracks was realized on "Live Wires", with Mintzer transforming them beyond recognition when compared to the sterile studio recorded versions of "The Spin" and "Four Corners". This album moved me to the point that I proceeded to acquire every one of the group's previous and subsequent releases after many years of listening to their debut CD "Yellowjackets", which I still believe to be one of their best.
Definitely a CD to add to any respectable Jazz/fusion collection... "
Alive, Tight & Flowing - A Great Live Jazz Workout!
Bill Appel | Ashburn, Virginia USA | 01/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Yellowjackets combined the rhythm of Spyro Gyra, a melodic fusion side of Weather Report and a touch of R&B orientation to create a sparkling crossover jazz sound without being too predictable at this stage of their career.
The 10 tracks on "Live Wires", recorded at the Hollywood Roxy in 1991, examplifies a tight unit of Bob Mintzer (on tenor, soprano, BWI and bass clarinet), keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip, drummer William Kennedy and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. Mintzer's inspiring and enjoyable solo workouts throughout shows why he is one of the best in the business. Ferrante, with his welcome Zawinal stylings and sounds at times, sparkles as well. The rest of the band back up and complement both Mintzer and Ferrante superbly.
Two tracks feature excellent guest appearances. The easy groovin', inspiring "The Dream" featuring the smooth Michael Franks on vocal could easily have been added to any Franks greatest hits compilation. The song is actually the Yellowjacket's "Local Hero" instrumental with Frank's writing and delivering the lyrics. Very well done and a must for any Franks fan like myself. Take 6 delivers excellent vocals and harmonies in the spiritual "Revelation" which ends this set.
GRP also does an excellent job in the recording and mastering of this album(CD)as the overall sound and sonics are consistently fresh and crisp throughout for a live recording."