Yusef Lateef

The Man with the Big Front Yard

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Unlike his earlier Riverside and Impulse recordings, multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef's work for Atlantic was quite streaky and erratic as he tried many experimental directions, seemingly all at once. This 1998 three-CD set reissues all of the music originally on four LPs: The Complete Yusef Lateef, Yusef Lateef's Detroit, Hush 'N' Thunder and The Doctor Is In...And Out. The strongest set is the first one (from 1967), which almost sounds like an Impulse date. Lateef is heard on tenor, alto, oboe (on a beautiful version of "In the Evening") and flutes while backed by pianist Hugh Lawson, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Roy Brooks; only the leader's closing vocal on "You're Somewhere Thinking of Me" is a bit weak. The Detroit album has Lateef sticking to tenor and flute, and joined by a trumpet section, an expanded rhythm section and four strings for a variety of originals and "That Lucky Old Sun." Hush 'N' Thunder is strongest during a Lateef/Kermit Moore tenor-cello duet on "Come Sunday" and a quartet rendition of Kenny Barron's "Sunset," but it also has a few throwaway tracks. The 1976 recording The Doctor Is In...And Out shoots all over the place with sound effects, odd narration and Lateef playing along with a circa-1915 record of a vocal quartet on "In a Little Spanish Town." This is an interesting reissue, recommended with reservations to Lateef fans able to find it at a budget price, but the Riversides and Impulses should be acquired first.

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