Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yusef Lateef - The Last Savoy Sessions

AMG says:

These pivotal sessions for Lateef and his Detroit-based groups comprise some of his most important music recorded for the Savoy label. This double CD set consists of complete albums The Dreamer and The Fabric of Jazz. (1959) and Jazz & The Sounds of Nature and Prayer to the East (1957) as well as a bonus cut. CD one is from the 1959 date, and contains some true Lateef classics like the slow swing of "Oboe Blues" and the bright, uppity waltz of "Valse Bouk." The 1957 dates on Disc Two show Lateef and Harden more focused and together or contrary and conversational. "8540 12th St." showcases the two horns mostly listening and spontaneously responding with some unison added on this classic hard bopper, Harden's poignant one note preludes on his solo are unique as an organist might play it. The Prayer to the East session includes the easy blues swing of the title cut, with Lateef's flute invoking Arabic inflections. Others from The Sounds of Nature are the Afro-Cuban to swing-beated "Check Blues" with unusual harmonics from overblown flute or stabbing flugelhorn notes, and the 6/8 one-note bass (or rabat) foundation for "Gypsy Arab," a flute/percussion processional with gong coda. This is a welcome reissue, as it puts the final stripe on Lateef's prolific music for Savoy prior to his more commercialized outings for Atlantic proper. It's some of his more profound, definitve work and is easily worthy of a hearty and universal high recommendation, especially a must buy for those new to Lateef's musings.

I say:

Yusef is one of the most underrated guys out there. Some of the most soulful and long-lasting ideas of the period. He had a big, bold sound, and a strut in his playing. It's a pity he's not a household name -- he deserves better. One of the reasons he's so unknown is he's still alive, thus some sort of unspoken threat to the bullshit musical establishment. No matter, check these out. You'll buy them if you do, as the sound quality here is mid-tier at best (160KPBS).