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.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.