Friday, October 09, 2020

Gentle Giant Leap: Yusef Lateef 100

Always someone to zig when I'm supposed to zag and Jazz when I'm supposed to Pop, I am here with a centennial tribute to that other guy with a big milestone birthday today.

I dithered for a week about what show to post before I decided to do one that's never circulated as an audio thing.

There's bits of the satellite TV broadcast from which this originates on YouTube, but this is an extraction of the sound from the original, high definition broadcast.

What can you say about today's 100 year old hero? Multi-instrumentalist, author, teacher, father of World Music, relentless explorer who kept at it at the highest, most committed level until he was 93 and died.

He is thought responsible for the integration of several previously-unheard-in-such-a-context instruments into Jazz, in particular the oboe and the bassoon.

The music he made was in no way limited by the term Jazz anyway, a word which he did not favor at all.

Take this wild, mostly improvised duo concert here, one of the last he ever gave before he passed.

What would you call this music? Ambient Improv EthnoJazz? Like these labels mean anything beyond our need to classify what should just belong to Beauty.

I've been listening to his stuff since I was in college and it's hard to imagine, but Yusef Lateef would have been 100 years old today.

To take nothing away from John Lennon (who'd have been 80 today, twice as old as he was when he was assassinated), we're going to go the road less traveled and celebrate in high style with this 71 minutes of what might be termed a sort of musical prayer.

Yusef Lateef & Adam Rudolph
Teatro dal Verme 
Milan, Italy

01 When
02 Dakpa #1
03 When (a poem)
04 Trouble In Mind
05 Hexatonic
06 Brother Hold Your Light
07 Dakpa #2
08 Horse Collar

Total time: 1:11:47

Yusef Lateef - tenor saxophone, flutes, piano, percussion & vocals
Adam Rudolph - guembri, percussion, piano & electronics

372/48k audio extraction of an HD digital satellite TV broadcast on the channel

This show is ethereally spacy, with the Maestro toggling between different instruments and singing, as well as delivering a prescient poem that could have ripped from tomorrow's headlines, whilst his collaborator massages the silence with a whole array of occasionally electronically-treated percussion.

I will be back next week with another giant celebrating another huge birthday... and this one is even alive. At least he is at the start of the weekend anyway, and I'd imagine he will continue to be until at least next Tuesday.

Today we are bucking the trend to no end, and we'll spend Friday in tribute to Yusef Lateef, an underrated innovator to whom my ears are never going to stop paying heed.--J.

10.9.1920 - 12.23.2013