Yusef Lateef

Beautiful Flowers

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The perfunctory liner notes to this reissue compilation don't deign to do anything as mundane as actually discuss the details of these sessions. But they do disclose that all but three of the tracks are taken from sessions Yusef Lateef did for the Savoy label on October 9 and October 10 of 1957, with the remaining sides coming from a June 11, 1959 date for the same company. So while it's not the most logical way to collect vintage material by the esteemed jazzman, it's a decent selection of cuts from his early days as a leader. While some of this is solid straight-ahead boppish stuff, there are also intimations of his more Eastern-influenced, ambitious side in "A Prayer to the East," "Gypsy Arab" (which evokes just such an image), Les Baxter's exotica-suffused "Love Dance," and Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" (with its oddly buzzing, gong-laden opening). The mysterious, beguiling "Angel Eyes," like all of the 1959 tracks, includes euphonium as part of the arrangement. In a more straightforward, period late-'50s jazz vein, "Check Blues" and "Endura" swing nicely, while his reading of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" supplies the obligatory romantic ballad.

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