Yusef Lateef (ts, fl, vcl, assorted instruments), Curtis Fuller (tb), Wilbur Harden (flh, tambourine), Hugh Lawson (p, metalphone, ocarina), Ernie Farrow (b), Louis Hayes, Oliver Jackson (d)
Reference: FSRCD 492
Bar code: 8427328604925
4CD Set, 32 page book-let
Digitally Remastered 24-Bit / 96 kHz
In 1950, after a year on tour with Dizzy Gillespies band, Yusef Lateef returned to Detroit, the city where he had grown up as a jazz musician. With his powerfully preaching tenor sax tone and fluent, driving style he established himself as an influential presence in the Motor City scene, forming his own quintet in 1955. He made his first recordings as a leader in 1957, a productive year for him, as this gripping 4-CD set reveals.
On it he plays tenor and flute with a compelling directness and overpowering honesty, surrounded by a nucleus of Detroiters like Curtis Fuller, Ernie Farrow, Louis Hayes, Oliver Jackson, Wilbur Harden and, especially, Hugh Lawson, whose rolling, two-handed piano is as exciting in solo as it is in his intelligent comping. The entire group plays in inspired fashion, speaking authoritatively for the Detroit jazz scene.
CHOC Jazz Magazine (April 2014)
"[...] Il sagit des débuts discographiques du saxophoniste-flûtiste, soit ses huit premiers albums (plus un ou deux morceaux à côté, repris dune compilation avec dautres musiciens ou parus plus tard). Mais en réalité il sagit de deux séances/séquences denregistrement particulièrement productives. Partenaires privilégiés du leader: le pianiste Hugh Lawson, à mon sens héritier du Duke mais tirant du côté de Red Garland, et le bassiste Ernie Farrow, quon entend également jouer du rebob (ou rabat), sorte de contrebasse orientale à une corde [...]
Partenaires particuliers: Curtis Fuller, qui se fait un cache-col des tempos ultra rapides, et Wilbur Harden, trompettiste qui fait le lien entre Clifford Brown et Lee Morgan. Quant au leader, grand amateur de boustrophédons pour ce qui est des titres (Seulb, Sram, Ecaps), je vous épargne le dithyrambe quil mérite pour sa pertinence, sa suavité, sa puissance, sa délicatesse, son lyrisme maîtrisé, son goût de létrange: entre Dexter et Rollins au ténor, et pour la flûte, un véritable pionnier, je ne vous dis que ça."
François-René Simon (April, 2014)
"This massive four-disc set of Yusef Lateef's first recordings as a leader was issued by Spain's Fresh Sound imprint and contains a total of eight different records, all but one recorded under the guidance of engineer Rudy Van Gelder for the Savoy, Verve, and Prestige/New Jazz imprints. Considering he was 37 when he began recording as a leader -- and had served tenures in New York with Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, and Ernie Fields -- Lateef was fully developed as a composer and arranger. His band for these sessions is stellar. His Detroit crew was comprised of monsters even as the band mutated a bit: the original unit featured Lateef with trombonist Curtis Fuller, bassist Ernie Farrow, pianist Hugh Lawson, and drummer Louis Hayes. Changes would take place later in the year: Oliver Jackson replaced Hayes, and flugelhorn boss Wilbur Harden took over the chair vacated by Fuller. In the Lateef vision, these differences were all part of the plan: exploring his passions in uniting African and Asian folk traditions with American music.
Some of the albums included here are now considered legendary sessions. Those include Jazz for the Thinker, Jazz Mood, Before Dawn, and Other Sounds. The other four -- Stable Mates, Jazz and the Sounds of Nature, Prayer to the East, and The Sounds of Yusef -- are no less satisfying. That said, only one of these recordings (Other Sounds,) has remained continually in print during the CD era. While it was not uncommon for recording artists to spend loads of time in the studio (the system was different then than it is now), making records and getting paid in addition to gigging at clubs, eight albums (and part of a ninth) is a lot of work in a year for anyone. This only underscores the depth of commitment Lateef and his collaborators had when it came to exploring new sounds, and incorporating different scalar elements, tonalities, and in Lateef's case, instruments, into the group sound. Lateef alternately plays tenor, flute, argol, scraped gourd, and an Indian reed whistle. While the music perhaps sounded otherworldly at the time, it always swung, no matter how much space was incorporated, no matter the rhythmic structure, melody, and lushly integrated harmonic sensibilities among the musicians, which were part of the core musical architecture. Some of the key tracks here are "Happyology," "Morning,""8540 Twelfth Street," "Taboo," "Love Is Eternal," and the title track to Before Dawn. Check the slightly angular structure at the beginning of "Space," from Jazz Mood: one can hear a gorgeously knotty nod to Thelonious Monk's compositions of the era, but it's all Lateef.
While it is true that sometimes Fresh Sound offerings are lacking in quality, this set, for the most part, is quite good. The sound is requisitely full and warm. A/B'ing from the LPs, it represents quite accurately the range and depth -- especially in the piano and basslines -- what is there. The price is also quite reasonable for such an extensive collection. The booklet contains the liner notes to each of the individual albums, and full session details. This is a fine investment for the jazz fan in general, and essential for those deeply interested in the still futuristic work of Lateef."
Thom Jurek -All Music Guide