Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yusef LATEEF - The Centaur And The Phoenix 1960

Yusef LATEEF - The Centaur And The Phoenix  1960
RLP 9337
Recorded in October 1960 and June 1961.


An under-appreciated jazz innovator, Yusef Lateef made many strides with regard to instrumentation in jazz. One of the few jazz oboe and bassoon players, Lateef also introduced such instruments as the argol (a double clarinet that resembles a bassoon) and the shanai (a type of oboe) into the jazz setting. However, his main instruments were the tenor saxophone and the flute. On this 1961 record date, the inventive Lateef surrounds himself with a horn section that features, among others, trumpet great Clark Terry and trombonist Curtis Fuller. A bassoonist by the name of Josea Taylor is also heard here and the rhythm section is lead by the noted pianist and composer, Joe Zawinul.

A diverse and thoughtful set of music is presented on THE CENTAUR AND THE PHOENIX including soulful blues numbers, lush ballads, and miscellaneous Eastern-influenced explorations. Highlights include Lateef's gorgeous flute work on the ballad "Summer Song," and the Latin-inflected.
From his first explosion of recordings in the mid-'50s, Yusef Lateef was a player who was always gently stretching the boundaries of his music to absorb techniques, new rhythms, and new influences from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The Centaur and the Phoenix, however, takes the risks and the innovations that Lateef was known for, and expands them in a number of different directions all at once, leading to an album that bursts with new ideas and textures, while remaining accessible, and above all, beautiful. Lateef seems eager here to take the next step musically by breaking the mold of his previous albums. While he is a gifted composer, only a third of the songs featured here are his work: the rhythm-driven flute showcase "Apathy," the gentle, nocturnal tribute to his daughter "Iqbal" and the tone poem "The Philanthropist." The best of the rest come from Kenny Barron, who was only 17 at the time, and Charles Mills, a contemporary classical composer who drew the album's self-titled highlight from two of his symphonies, the first paying tribute to Crazy Horse and the other to Charlie Parker. Providing the structure and textures needed for these intricate compositions was Lateef's largest ensemble to date. Accustomed to working in a small-group format, he makes managing a band of nine sidemen seem easy. Several Lateef regulars are here, including Barry Harris, Richard Williams, and Ernie Farrow, but the inclusion of forward-thinking musicians like Joe Zawinul also help take this album to a higher level. The greatest miracle of this recording, however, is the balance that Lateef achieves with this large group — they are always an asset, never a distraction, and even as they come on strong and powerful on songs like "Apathy," or Barron's arrangement of "Ev'ry Day (I Fall in Love)" he remains in charge, somehow making his delicate flute (or oboe, tenor sax or argol) rise above it all, spilling out brightness, grace and joy.
By Stacia Proefrock. AMG. 
Bass- Ben Tucker
Bassoon- Josea Taylor
Drums- Lex Humphries 
Piano- Joe Zawinul
Saxophone [Baritone]- Tate Houston
Saxophone [Tenor], Oboe, Flute [Arghul]- Yusef Lateef
Trombone- Curtis Fuller
Trumpet- Clark Terry , Richard Williams
A1. Revelation 5:53   
    Composed By - Barron
A2. Apathy 5:20 
    Composed By - Yusef Lateef 
A3. Ev'ry Day (I Fall In Love) 6:55 
    Arranged By - Kenneth Barron
    Composed By - Kahal* , Fain* 
B1. The Centaur And The Phoenix 5:33 
    Composed By - Charles Mills 
B2. Iqbal 4:48 
    Composed By - Yusef Lateef 
B3. Summer Song 5:22 
    Composed By - Charles Mills 
B4. The Philanthropist 3:56 
    Composed By - Yusef Lateef 


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