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Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph: Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef

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Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph: Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef
Had the multi-reed player Yusef Lateef still been alive in 2020, he would have been celebrating his 100th birthday. Sadly, Lateef passed seven years earlier. But 93 years is a good span for a jazz musician, especially one of Lateef's generation, who came of age in time to cut his professional teeth in swing bands.

Lateef went on contribute to bop—he was a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band in 1949—and then to hard bop. In the mid 1950s, he pioneered a strand of spiritual jazz which drew inspiration, and instrumentation, from cultures well beyond the African American bedrock of jazz and which he pursued for much of the rest of his career. In parallel, on Atlantic in the 1970s, Lateef laid down a series of gritty soul-jazz albums. His final years saw him move into what some observers regard as wishy- washy New Age sounds, but with his track record, Lateef was entitled to play whatever he wanted.

A musician who posthumously may be attracting a larger audience even than he did during his lifetime, Lateef would likely have generated multiple tribute albums in 2020, had the pandemic not sabotaged recording opportunities. One sneaked in under the wire, however: British multi-reed player Nat Birchall's highly recommended The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef (Jazzman), made with his quintet in 2019.

In 2022, some post-anniversary tributes may come our way. If they are of a similar standard to Bennie Maupin and Adam Rudolph's duo recording, Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef, they will be welcome. The music is in five movements, each a meditation on Lateef's culturally outward-facing aesthetic. Complete instrumentation details are not given, but it sounds like Maupin is playing soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet and a variety of flutes including Japanese end-blown shakuhachi, and Rudolph playing hand drums, berimbau, thumb pianos, cymbals, gongs, shekere and bells, including Tibetan prayer bells, plus a little skeletal acoustic piano in the fifth movement.

There is a little electronic sonic-manipulation, but in the main what we hear are beautifully recorded, unmediated acoustic sounds, multi-layered and maybe with some loops. Quietly virtuosic, the music's most important attribute is its restorative quality. The cover art, by the way, by Nancy Jackson, is based on a Lateef saying, "Have you noticed the leaves waving to you? It's okay to wave back."

In 2022, it is good to note that we are beginning to see a push-back against the barbarism of download-only albums. Britain's Strut label has gone the extra mile and is making Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef available on LP, CD, download and even a limited-edition cassette. It all adds up to a fitting tribute.

Postscript: Lateef's booting hard-bop-going-on-soul-jazz should not be forgotten. Check the 1972 live performance on YouTube below.

Track Listing

First Movement; Second Movement; Third Movement; Fourth Movement; Fifth Movement.

Personnel

Bennie Maupin
woodwinds
Adam Rudolph
percussion
Additional Instrumentation

Bennie Maupin: soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flutes; Adam Rudolph: hand drums, berimbau, thumb pianos, bells, cymbals, gongs, shekere, acoustic piano (5).

Album information

Title: Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Strut Records


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