This is a welcome reissue of one of a series of fine Impulse! albums by multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef that have never taken their deserved place among the major recordings of the '60s. I suspect part of the reason for their neglect has to do with the image, helped by both the Impulse!, and later Atlantic labels, in portraying Lateef as a purveyor of hopelessly arcane musical exotica. The weird title of this album doesn't help any more than the 2005 front cover copy crowing about how this music is "mysterious and uncategorizable."
I find it nothing of the sort. Psychicemotus is quite available to any jazz fan with open ears, and unmysterious to anyone who can understand that African and Asian instruments and musical concepts have long been embraced and integrated into jazz by Lateef, who also has a long history in integrating R&B into jazz. Lateef's album is simply wildly eclectic and often driven by a variety of flutes.
He handles Erik Satie's "First Gymnopedie" with a devout classical tone that's faithful to the graceful meditative structure of the original. On the other hand, "Bamboo Flute Blues" has some unusual tones vocalized on a F pentatonic scalecalled "primitive" in the original liner notes!but the shape of the piece is derived from traditional New Orleans jazz and gospel. Workouts on tenor sax like "I'll Always Be In Love With You" have a gruff sweetness to them that makes Lateef fit nicely in the same musical universe as Sonny Rollins.
Much of the pleasure of this 1965 album is also derived from the superlative support given Lateef by bassist Reggie Workman, the obscure pianist George Arvanitas, and the amazingly underrated drummer James Black. The lightness and playfulness of the musical experimentation here is a massive contrast to much of what the Impulse! label was recording in the '60s, which serves as a reminder that new jazz then, as now, need not be darkly moody in order to make a mind and heart-expanding statement.
Track Listing: Psychicemotus; Bamboo Flute Blues; Semiocto; Why Do I Love You?; First Gymnopedie;
Medula Sonata; I'll Always Be In Love With You; Ain't Misbehavin'.
Personnel: Yusef Lateef: flutes, tenor sax, tambourine; George Arvanitas: piano; Reggie Workman:
bass; James Black: drums, percussion.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
Login to your All About Jazz member account to submit articles and press releases, upload images, edit musician profiles, add events and business listings, communicate with other members via personal messages, submit inqueries or contribute any content.