Jazz CD Reviews

Yusef Lateef – Eastern Sounds – Prestige RVG Remasters

Laid-back exotic sounds from Lateef 45 years ago

Published on September 14, 2006

Yusef Lateef – Eastern Sounds – Prestige RVG Remasters
Yusef Lateef – Eastern Sounds – Prestige RVG Remasters  PRCD-30012-2, 40:00 ****:

(Yusef Lateef, tenor sax/oboe/flutes; Barrie Harris, piano; Ernie Farrow, bass/rabat; Lex Humphries, drums)

Recorded originally for Prestige’s Moodsville sub label, this session is quieter and more laid-back Lateef than one is accustomed to hearing. Dating from a September 1961 session, the disc is in stereo, which is unusual for Prestige just four years after the launch of the stereodisc, because the jazz label was one of the longest holdouts in finally going over to stereo. 

Lateef’s idea here was to bridge the relationships between the improvisational music of America and that of the East.  The liner notes speak of the Near East, but the opening track goes a bit further, using a Chinese globular flute, and bassist Farrow plays the Indian string instrument the rabat on some tracks.  Lateef’s own “Blues for the Orient” is a swinging blues number and one of the few featuring oboe as the solo instrument.  Hollywood soundtrack composers have always had a penchant for creating pseudo-Oriental music to accompany scenes in exotic locales.  Lateef chose for his improvisations two love themes from the movies – Spartacus and The Robe.

Jo Goldberg’s liner notes are interesting because they are in two sections: the first is the original notes from the 1962 LP; then he wrote new notes this year for this reissue from Rudy van Gelder’s studio. Only the Spartacus Love Theme had remained in his mind from the original LP 45 years ago, but he enjoyed hearing all nine tracks again.  His summary of the recording is that you don’t have to raise your voice to make your point.  Couldn’t agree more. I recall going to hear Lateef live at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, having in mind my enjoyment of this very recording and others earlier in his career, and being very disappointed because he seemed intent on raucous loft jazz expression instead of more tender treatments such as the cross-cultural tunes on this CD.

Tracks: The Plum Blossom, Blues for the Orient, Ching Miau, Don’t Blame Me, Love Theme from Spartacus, Snafu, Purple Flower, Love Theme from The Robe, The Three Faces of Balal

 - John Henry




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