Renowned not just as a first rate saxophonist, Lateef was a multi-instrumentalist introducing instruments such as the oboe, bassoon and the Japanese koto into a jazz context.

Arc Records ARC006

Yusef Lateef – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, vocals; Thad Jones (tracks 1, 4, 5 & 7), Danny Moore (tracks 2, 3, & 6), Jimmy Owens (tracks 1-7), Snooky Young (tracks 1-7) – trumpet; Eric Gale – guitar (tracks 1-7); Hugh Lawson – piano; Cecil McBee – bass; Chuck Rainey – electric bass (tracks 1-7); Bernard Purdie (tracks 1-7) – drums, Roy Brooks Jr. (track 8)- drums; Ray Barretto (tracks 1, 4, 5 & 7), Norman Pride (tracks 2, 3, & 6) – congas; Albert Heath – percussion (tracks 1-7); Selwart Clarke, James Tryon – violin (tracks 1, 3, 4 & 6); Alfred Brown – viola (tracks 1, 3, 4 & 6); Kermit Moore – cello (tracks 1, 3, 4 & 6)

Recorded at Century Sound Studios in New York City on February 4, 1969 (tracks 1, 4, 5 & 7) and February 5, 1969 (tracks 2, 3, & 6) and on June 1, 1967 in New York City (track 8)

Released to coincide with Record Store Day, and an official UK release date of 19th May this is the only reissue of the album on vinyl since 1969. Issued on Arc Records run by DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson this is a rather left of field choice after being given access to the Warner Music archive.

With many better and well received Lateef recordings possibly in the archive and at his disposal, Peterson has selected an album that finds not only the saxophonist at a crossroad, but also the jazz scene in general looking to see what direction it should be steering the music.

With the advent of rock’n’roll and Beatlemania sweeping the globe, and the use of electronics and fusion of jazz and rock the waters were somewhat muddied.

For this album recorded for Atlantic in 1969, Lateef looked to the music of Detroit, and brings to his original compositions, of which seven of the eight were written especially for the sessions, a deep sense of big band swing, hard bop and blues style saxophone improvisations in conjunctions with some funky grooves and basslines that drive the music along.

Renowned not just as a first rate saxophonist, Lateef was a multi-instrumentalist introducing instruments such as the oboe, bassoon and the Japanese koto into a jazz context.

In addition to his saxophone playing here, we are also treated to some excellent flute solos that help give the music a solid sense of purpose and produce some of the best moments of the set.

Personally, I could do without the vocals but by and large the music stands up well. Yes, it is very much of its time, but such is the consistency and inventiveness of the Lateef’s solos that bring the highest rewards.

The arrangements are tight and not over sentimental, and the leader is impressive in the way his playing rises above and dominates proceedings. His tenor playing on ‘Livingston Playground’ and ‘Belle Isle’ against an insistent bass line is commanding with a big powerful tone, and his flute on ‘Eastern Market’ a marvel.

Flip the album over to side 2 and the slow funk laden bass of ‘Russell And Eliot’ almost bogs the piece down if it were not for emotional cries of the tenor sax and Eric Gale’s guitar.

The guitarist also solos to fine effect on ‘Raymond Winchester’, and provides fine accompaniment to Lateef’s lyrical flute on ‘Woodward Avenue’, with both refusing to be drowned out at times by the horns.

The albums concludes rather strangely, and it has to be said satisfyingly, with the saxophonist’s lovely ballad ‘That Lucky Old Sun’.

With just a rhythm section of pianisy Hugh Lawson, Cecil McBee on double bass and drummer Roy Brooks Jr. Recorded on June 1st, 1967, during the session that produced the album The Complete Yusef Lateef this straight ahead piece demonstrates more than any other just how good an improviser and tenor saxophonist Yusef Lateef was.

A left of field choice the album maybe but it does give a good representation of the music of the time and there is much fine playing to enjoy.