25204-1 Samurai Samba
Produced by Tommy LiPuma
Released on 1985
Find it at GEMM
25204-1 cover
[high resolution photo]

T he hive is alive with the sound of saxophones, but it’s still all about the groove on Samurai Samba. Keyboardist Russell Ferrante chooses soft keyboard textures, the rhythm section of Haslip and Lawson keep things funky, and Russo’s saxophone comments on the action but doesn’t drive it the way he would on Shades. Otherwise, there’s not much that separates this Samba from their other moves: you have the crossover pop song (“Lonely Weekend”), intoxicating grooves (“Homecoming,” “Deat Beat”) and soulful, smooth jazz (“Daddy’s Gonna Miss You,” “Silverlake”). Since I’m naturally distrustful of jazz, I tend to watch a band that will slip a “Sylvania” and “Silverlake” onto the same album with a raised eyebrow. My tastes tend to run more traditional, which is to say I favor the sly dissonance of bop and its related offspring. Yellowjackets do that too, on the closing “Samurai Samba” of all places, but making an album with a little something for everyone only makes everyone a little happy. Of course, as I’ve said before, I have a big blind spot when it comes to jazz, and the ‘80s saw a transitional period where jazz, funk and pop music got swirled together into a kind of supermarket samba that initially attracted new listeners to jazz. If you ask me, the new listeners were people in silly turtlenecks with unpronounceable audiophile components (“The D is silent...”) who were convinced that jazz was the audio equivalent of wheat germ, but I don’t know why you would ask me. It is interesting, however, that jazz critics who would pore over every note recorded by Miles Davis or John Coltrane and gush at the achievements of Weather Report and Pat Metheny would seldom devote a fraction of the energy to breaking down the work of Yellowjackets or Tom Scott. But then I tend to lump jazz into one big bucket, and clearly there’s a little jazz elf at work in the bucket rolling some of the jazz grapes to one side and some to another. And that’s how I started with a hive analogy and ended up with a grape-rolling elf in a bucket. Tsk.

25204-1 back cover
25204-1 back cover


  1. HOMECOMING    (Ferrante)    5:13
  2. DEAT BEAT    (Ferrante/Haslip/Lawson/Russo)    5:25
  3. DADDY'S GONNA MISS YOU    (Ferrante/Haslip/Lawson/Russo)    4:33
  4. SYLVANIA    (Ferrante/Haslip/Lawson)    4:14
  5. SILVERLAKE    (Ferrante)    5:45
  6. LONELY WEEKEND    (Ferrante/Curiale/Lawson/Caldwell)    4:20
  7. LOS MAMBOS    (Ferrante/Russo/da Costa)    4:24
  8. SAMURAI SAMBA    (Ferrante)    5:18


JIMMY HASLIP -- 5-string bass
RICKY LAWSON -- drums, electric drums
MARC RUSSO -- alto sax
Bobby Caldwell -- vocals
Carl Caldwell -- vocals
Paulinho da Costa -- percussion, vocals
Paulo da Costa Jr. -- vocals (7)
Rory Kaplan -- Fairlight programming
Michael Landau -- guitar
Carlos Rios -- guitar
Marilyn Scott -- vocals
Erik Zobler -- engineer, mixing
Simon Levy -- art direction/design
Lou Beach -- cover artwork
Jeff Katz -- photography

return to YELLOWJACKETS discography

US 1985 Warner Bros. LP/CS 25204  
GER 1985 Warner Bros. LP 925 204  
US   Warner Bros. CD 25204  


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