Yusef Lateef

Before Dawn

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This is one of the most obscure of all Yusef Lateef recordings, one that has even been left out of some discographies. Lateef mostly sticks to tenor (playing only flute on one song and making one appearance on the double-reed arghul) and is featured with his Detroit All-Stars, a quintet also including the up-and-coming trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Hugh Lawson, bassist Ernie Farrow and drummer Louis Hayes. Overall, the set is more bop-oriented than normal, with versions of "Pike's Peak" (based on "What Is This Thing Called Love"), Charlie Parker's "Constellation" and the blues "Chang, Chang, Chang" showing how strong and original Lateef could be even playing conventional straight-ahead material. Some of the other pieces look toward the future and/or the East, and all eight selections have their memorable moments, with the passionate yet thoughtful ballad "Love Is Eternal" being among the high points. Recommended.

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