One of the most intriguing and original jazz instrumentalists, Yusef Lateef strives to break down the walls that separate (or compartmentalize) musical idioms. This said, THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EPIC SUITE is congruent with the notion that music is a combination of the world's many so-called "styles." On this early-'90s release, Lateef seeks to show through musical composition the history of African Americans.
Composed in four movements called "The African as Non-American," "Transmutation," "Love for All," and "Freedom," Lateef uses an almost literary technique to outline the plight, woe, and jubilation of Black Americans. The suite opens with soft, jungle-like rumblings and essentially progresses and evolves through many stages of change. In the end, we hear oppression turn to love then to enlightenment then to liberty. Performing with the Cologne Radio Orchestra of Germany and an ensemble called Eternal Wind (Ralph Jones, Frederico Ramos, Adam Rudolph, Charles Moore) this album boldly attempts to bring to life the struggles and joys of Black America through rich orchestration, ominous percussive effects, and Lateef's inimitable reed work.