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Yusef Lateef: The African-American Epic Suite

The distinguished musician-composer, educator, and scholar Yusef Lateef long ago eschewed issuing recordings, or performances for that matter, within the so-called jazz canon. Though masterfully skilled in that area, Lateef has instead concentrated his recorded energies on achieving new levels of spiritual connection with his roots, his people, and a higher consciousness. For this 1993 German recording he exercises primarily his considerable compositional skills on development of a serious piece of work encompassing the Cologne Radio Orchestra and the organic world music ensemble known as Eternal Wind (percussionist Adam Rudolph, woodwind specialist Ralph Jones, guitarist Federico Ramos, and brass-percussion man Charles Moore).

What results is a work dealing with elements of the journey of the African diaspora, beginning with primal Africa. During his precious passages of tenor saxophone Lateef emotes with an animalism that is deep, passionate, and almost ritualistic in its intensity. This is a work that requires intent listening, and one that will yield impressions that are quite true to the composer’s intent.

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