Yusef Lateef

The Sounds of Yusef

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Without delving into the complexity of some of Yusef Lateef's '60s era work, The Sounds of Yusef manages to chart some new territory amid his sea of late-'50s recordings. Many of the songs tilt their head toward the East, both rhythmically and in their instrumentation, but the album as a whole still has its feet firmly planted in the jazz tradition. Nowhere is that more obvious than the album's opener, a flute-led version of "Take the 'A' Train" where Lateef manages to polish the already bright and cheery melodic line of the standard to a new sheen with his exuberant playing. "Playful Flute" shows a heavy African influence, experimenting with more complex rhythmic structures; close listening reveals that it occasionally wanders off track, but Lateef's high flute line draws attention away from any imperfections. In the latter half of the song he employs a technique where he vocalizes and plays the flute at the same time. The result is a deeper, more textured, breathy sound that seems appropriate for his explorations here. Things really get interesting on the album's second side (beginning with track three) where the Asian-influenced composition opens with a shimmering Chinese gong then takes an occasionally fascinating, occasionally grating turn when a number of non-traditional instruments alternate with Lateef's flute line, including 7-Up bottles and the squeaky surface of balloons. The sound is amazingly avant-garde for 1957, making the experiment worth it, even if it is less accessible than the forward-looking jazz numbers that follow: "Buckingham," which allows Lateef to show off on tenor sax, and the contemplative, mellow "Meditation," which shows Lateef's quiet side at its graceful best.

blue highlight denotes track pick