Every work of art is part form, part substance and part emotion. The double CD Influence, by Yusef Lateef and the Belmondo brothers, has the beauty of form of an impressionist canvas, the depth and the complexity of a mathematical equation, but the emotional sterility of a doctor's office.
The music is a blend of complex and precise improvisations and melodies from around the world, including 19th Century Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Africa, all peppered with a jazz sensibility. The three multi-instrumentalist virtuosos in the front line forge their individual voices into a sound sculpture without losing their individuality. The rhythm section not only keeps up with the horns, but also builds a solid foundation for them.
While the recording mostly lacks emotion, it's not completely devoid of passion. The beginning drum solo of the title track rumbles with the kind of excitement that one feels in the pit of one's stomach, but the feeling fades away completely after a few minutes as the drums fade into their supportive role. The last part of the suite that takes up most of disc two also starts off laden with a charge reminiscent of the finest hard bop recordings of the 1950s, and it's more or less able to maintain momentum throughout its fourteen-minute duration.
This is a beautiful, complex and interesting recording, but with only a few surprises and a few passionate shreds of jazzy excitement. The multicultural style of the music and its beautiful complexity fits well with the great Yusef Lateef's legacy and the Belmondo brothers' body of work.
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