Yusef Lateef

9 Bagatelles

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77 years young, Lateef continued to operate on a plane way outside the mainstream of jazz, combining his still virile tenor sax and various flutes with electronics in a sometimes indulgent yet searching series of aptly-named bagatelles. Only Kamir Sabir's coloristic drums and M. Abidh Waugh's electronic programming skills accompany Lateef in these compositions, which bear titles like "Civil Liberties," "Exempt" and "Unimpeded," and range in length from about one and a half to 13 and a half minutes. There is a bamboo flute meditation, a tough tenor jazz incantation with Sabir, an electro-acoustic evocation of the Middle East, and drifting pieces reminiscent of, but more substantial than, Lateef's new age ramblings of the '80s. The most striking -- and surprisingly, the most absorbing -- of the extended pieces is "Natural Motion," which amounts to a nearly free-sounding electronic composition full of staccato pinpoints of light surrounding Lateef's tenor. Throughout, Lateef's electronic effects entice and alert the ear rather than soothe and narcotize it, and he isn't afraid to step outside the boundaries of tonality in doing so.

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