Yusef Lateef


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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

Yusef Lateef's experimentalism hit the stratosphere in 1965 with the issue of 1984. With bassist Reggie Workman, pianist Mike Nock, and drummer James Black, from the eight-minute title track that opens the album and the two-minute, angular modal ballad "Try Love," 1984 certainly seems to be shaping up into one weird record. The title is an experimental, noodling improv that has Lateef literally moaning as if in mourning throughout -- indecipherably no less -- and "Try Love"'s minimalist reeds barely hint at a melodic structure. All of this would be perfectly in keeping with the time, of course. After all, Coltrane, Ornette, and Cecil Taylor were tearing up Western musical conventions as if they were yesterday's newspapers. But then with "Soul Sister," featuring Lateef's deep, bluesy, tenor blowing around a gorgeous lyric figure, and Mike Nock's stunningly beautiful soloing on "Love Waltz," the entire album moves in another direction, even if it isn't terribly focused. The off-kilter, blues rip on "One Little Indian" (yes, that one), with its carny piano and out saxophone blowing into the microphonic territories, sends it off into another space entirely until, at the end, when we've heard the lovely flute on his read of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and have reentered the complex melodic world of Lateef, that we can understand where we've been harmonically, and it isn't somewhere familiar, though it has some signposts we recognize. In all, a complex yet very emotionally and musically rewarding effort by a master.

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