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Yellowjackets is an American jazz fusion quartet. Formed in 1977 and known originally as the Robben Ford Group, the eventually-named Yellowjackets consisted of Robben Ford, Russell Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip and Ricky Lawson, all top-notch L.A. session musicians. Ford had originally assembled this lineup to record his 1979 solo album The Inside Story which was released under the name of Robben Ford. During this initial period the band’s sound combined elements of blues, jazz fusion, and progressive rock with Ford contributing vocals. Over the next year the group began moving in a more democratic direction; eliminating Ford’s vocals and embracing a more commercially oriented jazz-funk approach overall, the band signed with Warner Bros. as Yellowjackets. Ford, however, was still signed to a separate record contract with Elektra and ended up listed as a guest artist on the band’s 1981 debut under the Yellowjackets name. During the tour to support the album the lineup was augmented by second guitarist Michael Landau. Eventually Ford was replaced by saxophone player Richard Elliot who appeared only on the "Mirage a Trois" album before switching places in 1984 with Tower of Power alto saxophonist Marc Russo. Drummer Ricky Lawson left in 1986 to tour with Lionel Richie. Select Yellowjackets songs were featured on The Weather Channel's Local on the 8s segments, with the Ferrante composition "Matinee Idol" being the most well-known.
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