Yusef Lateef Quartet this weekend. Recorded live at Cloître des Célestins in Avignon, France on July 19, 1972 and rebroadcast by the venerable Radio France and their FIP channel just recently.
Multi-talented and a prominent figure in Jazz since the 1950s, Lateef was a pioneer in what later became known as World Music. In 1961 he employed such diverse instruments as the bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, xun, arghul and koto into his compositions, creating a whole new aspect into Jazz incorporating Western ideas with Eastern instruments.
Around the time of this concert, Lateef had completed his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received his Masters Degree in 1970. In 1971 he became a Professor at the Manhattan School of Music, teaching courses in “autophysiopsychic music“, which his quartet explores here. He is joined by Kenny Barron on piano, Bob Cunningham on bass and Tootie Heath on drums.
Aside from his work in performing and teaching Jazz, Yusef Lateef was also an accomplished writer with several books, novellas and an autobiography to his credit. But his most notable work, aside from the students he guided, was his introduction and promotion of Eastern instruments into Western music and helping broaden the playing field for musical ideas.
He was active all the way up to his death at age 93 on December 23, 2013, recording and teaching at both The University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Hampshire College. The last albums he recorded were Voice Prints and Towards The Unknown, both for the Meta Records label. Both were recorded in 2008 and 2009 with Voice Prints issued in 2012, a year before his death.
His recorded legacy is huge – with some 75 albums featuring him as leader/soloist, with an almost equal number of releases featuring him in collaboration with others.
An artist worth checking out, if you aren’t already familiar.
If you are, just turn it up and relax.