Yusef Lateef

A Gift: Goodness Inwardness Forgiving Tolerance

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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

Once again on his own YAL label, Lateef's treat to us is a thoroughly inventive series of sonic meditations on the spiritual cosmos. In fact, the word "gift" in the title is actually an acronym for "a goodness, inwardness forgiving tolerance." And while Lateef makes some thoroughly inside music, classical music even, this record doesn't approach that. This is music that is searching and fearless and doesn't worry about who it is atonal for. With help from percussionist and overtone singer Adam Rudolph, drummer Kamal Sabir, and guitarist and electronic keyboardist M. Abidh Waugh, his notion of musical abstraction is one that is universal, or at least follows universal laws where dynamics and drama begin and end, where certain instruments float and where they attack and how long a particular phrase or rhythm can hover for, all of them are determined by the musical and emotional forces within the recording studio. To venture into what "tunes" do what, would be a desecration of the intricate yet spacious body of work that appears on Gift. True, it may be challenging for some, but it's gentle, too; there is no anger in its grooves and there is no intellectual one-upmanship. This is heart music with a spiritual direction, as abstract as the heart is and as direct as the open sky is above us.

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