Yellowjackets: Blue Hats

The prolific Yellowjackets use no overdubs or other electronic wizardry on their 14th album in 16 years. There’s a lot more solo improvisation evident as the fusion quartet delivers its popular sound with a freer “live” feel than in the past.

Elements of African polyrhythms and harmonies spurred by bassist Jimmy Haslip enrich “Savannah,” “Capetown” and “With These Hands.” The funky swing of “New Rochelle” contrasts with Russell Ferrante’s-piano work on the Latin groove of “Coquimbo” and the serene sax of Bob Mintzer on “Prayer for Peace.” Mintzer plays EWI and bass clarinet on other tracks, switching to tenor for the delicately melancholy “Angelina.”

The nine originals came together during two weeks of jam-style rehearsals. The result is an exciting and forward-looking fusion of funky and sometimes soulful acoustic and electric jazz.