YELLOWJACKETS, City Centre Sheraton, Monday.

In the middle of the Yellowjackets concert Monday night, saxophonist Bob Mintzer joked about how the group's music has so many diverse styles. "We are all about departures."

In fact, Mintzer said, when it comes to music styles, "we're an equal opportunity employer."

And with that, he wrapped up in a nutshell what the concert was all about. The band members played everything from new, odd-metered charts to gospel, blues, electronic, funk, bop, straight-ahead, go-go, smooth jazz, progressive contemporary and even some pretty straight-ahead bluegrass.

The members of the Yellowjackets fit together smoothly. Mintzer, bassist Jimmy Haslip, keyboardist Russel Ferrante and drummer Marcus Baylor are individually talented and flexible in their abilities. And in spite of their eclectic "departures," everything Monday fit pretty neatly under the umbrella of the Yellowjackets' sound.

This year marks their 25th anniversary, and they'll be releasing a CD and DVD in connection with that. So it shouldn't be a surprise that they would take this opportunity to reflect on the breadth and depth of what the band has done, and what they can do. In fact, they only touched lightly on their most recent CD, focusing more on past releases.

They started off with some new charts: kind of an interesting mix of a smooth jazz-influenced melody on top of very complex rhythm patterns from the bass and drums. It was almost like ordering french fries (what ought to be front-and-center) just for an excuse to eat the fry sauce (what is typically there to accentuate).

Marcus Baylor stood out as an incredibly talented drummer, spinning out complex, multifaceted musical rhythms. And although the styles changed throughout the concert, he didn't disappoint — especially during "Sea Folk," when he accidentally tossed his drumstick into the audience during a solo and continued on without missing a microbeat.

Haslip got the audience excited with some intense bass solos, and Mintzer was probably at his most fun when he was mimicking a fiddle in the bluegrass "Frieda." He brought a synthesized saxophone, which expanded what he was able to do. Ferrante, likewise, fluidly switched back and forth between an acoustic keyboard and synthesizer.


E-mail: rcline@desnews.com