Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yusef Lateef - "The African-American Epic Suite" for quintet & orchestra (1993)

A very different Yusef Lateef piece from the last post - a dark conceptual work for quintet and orchestra from 1993. We'll get the composer to explain :

Yusef Lateef said :

1st movement excerpt

1st Movement :
The African as Non American

As this movement opens you are taken back in time, about three hundred years, to the continent of West Africa. You imagine that you are listening to the music of Yoruba, Hausa, Akan, Ewe, Senufa, Benin, Dahomey, Ebo or Ashanti people, etcetera. In other words, you are listening to a music which has its historical roots in the soil of Africa.

In the 20th measure the violins enter on the note of D flat, one octave above high C. Programmatically the violins represent the first slave ships, stealthily approaching the shore of West Africa. The high D flat continues, gradually increasing in volume and intensity. by teh 58th measure the D flat has reached an alarming medium forte. In the 59th measure the slavers land and commence to capture the Africans. At this instant the calmness, serenity and calculated capriciousness of the African music is disturbed.

Now, fright, flight, cacaphony and mayhem can be heard in the music. The rest of the movement reflects the futile efforts of the Africans desperately tying to avoid the chains and shackles of the relentless slavers, ending with the bassoon sounding the nine note motif that signals the unknown future of the captives.

2nd movement excerpt

2nd Movement:
The Middle Passage and Transmutation

This movement opens with a dirge like passage which denotes the captives being stabilised in the bowels of the slave ship, with chains and unyielding leg irons. Sounds of pain are heard at intervals throughout the movement. Physical suffering and thoughts of sadness burdened with bewilderment rack the bodies and tax the minds of the captives during the middle passage, as well, tender thoughts and supplications of prayer for their families left behind pour forth from their tongues and hearts between the frequent moments of anguish and excruciating pain endured during the middle passage.

The motif, in a different context, sounds again near the end of this movement, which are followed by African exclamations, that are neither happy nor sad, at the sight of land - America - the new world, from which comes a new kind of human being (a trans-mutation), the African American.

3rd movement excerpt

3rd Movement
Love For All

Since the Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century it was realized by most of the known world that the African American reflected spirituality, love and a deep sense of compassion in his/her music; therefore, the 3rd movement reflects as deeply as the composer. Conductor and musicians are able to emit through musical sounds : compassion and love for all mankind.

4th movement excerpt

4th Movement

The opening nine chords of the 4th movement, accompanied by the side-blown Chinese flute heralds the freedom of the African American academic and artistic expression, which actually began in earnest after the abolition of slavery, and has continued to blossom consistently even to this day, by the grace of God. This movement in essence, reflects this evolution beginning in the early sixties through 1993.
All praise is to god.

Simon adds :

I came across a reference to an essay by David Pope, an ex-student of Lateef, called "Diverse Compositional Techniques in Yusef Lateef's African American Epic Suite "First Movement - The African as Non-American" , from a journal called ex tempore, A Journal of Compositional and Theoretical Research in Music (Vol. IX/2: Spring/Summer 1999). I didn't have any luck getting in without the correct academic passwords, but I did manage to extract the images, three pages from Lateef's score for the first movement :


01 1st Movement : The African as Non-American - 6:16
02 2nd Movement : Transmutation - 12:40

03 3rd movement : Love For All - 11:46
04 4th Movement : Freedom - 15:22

Total Playing time 46:08


Yusef Lateef - T
enor Saxaphone, Germanic Flute, Alto Flute, Indian Flute, Bamboo Flutes, Indian temple flute, moan flute, Algaita, Shannie

Cologne Radio Orchestra (Kölner Rundfunkorchester) - Group

David de Villiers - Director (orchestra)

Eternal Wind - Performers :

Ralph Jones - Tenor and Soprano saxaphones, Flute, Bass Clarinet, Hichiriki, Bamboo Flutes

Charles Moore - Dumbek, Flugelhorn, Shofar, Conch Shells

Frederico Ramos - Acoustic and Elecric Guitars, Gimbri

Adam Rudolph - small percussion, cymbals, drums, bells, gong, tabla, didjiridoo, whistles, udu clay drums, hand drums, kalgu, kalngu (talking drum)

Recorded October 25 - November 3, 1993 at WDR Cologne.
Ulrich Kurth - Producer, Liner NotesHelmut Büttner - Sound SupervisionHermann Kaldenhoff - Recording engineerGreg Calby - Digital Mastering, Sterling Sound New York.
Irene Van Dreyke - Sound Technician
Greg Calby - Digital Mastering, Sterling Sound New York.Timo Kirves - Photography
MohrDesign, Köln - artwork
Ein Aufnahme des West-deutschen Rundfunks Köln

YUSEF LATEEF blog discography

Disclaimer :  These links were all live in 2009, when this blog post was written. That's a long time ago.

'Morning - The Savoy Sessions' at Hook's Gems

"The Last Savoy Sessions" (2000) at Lost Soul or Avaxhome
(includes : 'Prayer to the East" (1957); 'Jazz and the Sounds of Nature (1957); 'The Dreamer" (1959); 'The Fabric of jazz" (1959).
1955 'Yusef Lateef with Donald Byrd'
at Musica Desde Las Antipodas
1957 'Before Dawn' at Jazzdisposition or AxaxHome
1957 'Jazz Mood" at AvaxHome
1957 "Jazz For the Thinker"
at Musica Desde Las Antipodas
1957 "Prayer to the East" at Musica Desde Las Antipodas
1957 "Plays for Lovers' at Daytime Lovers
1957 'The Sounds of Yusef" at Taringa or Jazzagogo
1957 "Other Sounds" at KingCake Crypt / alternate
1958 'Lateef at Cranbrook' at Orgy in Rhythm
1959 "Cry! Tender' (FLAC) at CIA1959 "Cry! Tender" (MP3) at Lakasafunk / alternate 

1959 "The Dreamer" at Musica Desde Las Antipodas
1959 'Beautiful Flowers" at Jazzdisposition
1960 'Three Faces of Yusef Lateef' (MP3) at Jazz En la Web or AvaxHome
1960 'The Three Faces Of Yusef Lateef' (FLAC) at CIA

1960 "The Centaur and the Phoenix" @ Avax1960 'Lost in Sound' aka 'Outside Blues' @ Hook's Gems
1961 "Eastern Sounds (FLAC) at CIA
1961 "Eastern Sounds" (MP3) at Somewhere I have Never travelled

1961 "with Mingus at Birdland" (radio broadcast) at Inconstant Sol
1963 "Jazz 'Round The World" donated by Trevor
/ alternate / alternate
1964 'Club Date' at Orgy in Rhythm
1964 'Psychicemotus' at seventeen green buicks / alternate
1964 'Live at Peps' Vol 1 at Marramua or Avaxhome or Kingcake Krypt

1964 'Live at Pep's Vol. 2" at Radiodada or Avaxhome or Kingcake Krypt
1965 'The Golden Flute' (MP3) at Orgy in Rhythm / alternate
1965 'The Golden Flute' (FLAC) at CIA1965 '1984' donated by Trevor
1966 'A flat, G flat and C' at Daytime Lovers
/ alternate
1968 'The Blue Yusef Lateef' at Voodoo Child / alternate
1969 'Yusef Lateef's Detroit' at Marramua / alternate
1969 "The Diverse Yusef Lateef" at / alternate
1972 "The Gentle Giant" donated by Corvimax / alternate
1973 'Hush n' Thunder' at My Favourite Sound / alternate
1974 "Part of the Search" at Musica Desde Las Antipodas / alternate
1975 'Ten Years Hence' at Orgy in Rhythm
1976 'The Doctor Is In .. and Out" at My Favourite Sound / alternate
1978 'Autophysiopsychic' at All For the CTI
1979 'In a Temple Garden' at My Jazz World
/ alternate
1993 "The African-American Suite" - link at the base of this post
1995 "The World at Peace" (Adam Rudolph and Yusef Lateef)
2005 "Influence" - Belmondo/Lateef donated by Corvimax / alternate

2006 - Festival Jazz de Cully, March 26, Chapiteau, Cully (CH) - at Jazz Bootlegs
2007 "Live In New York" donated by Corvimax (thanks!)


CD rip by Simon666



Messiah of Soul Power Music Group said...

i can not believe this.....this is an AMAZING post and not one single comment? the nerve of some people....thank you Simon! I really appreciate your work and effort....Peace


Simon666 said...

Hi Messiah, thanks for commenting.

JaxR said...

True great post indeed! Thanks again.

corvimax said...

I like Yusef Lateef and I was missing this, thank you simon666
by the way I don, know about OOP or not, but if interested I can share here "Belmondo,Yusef Lateef - Influence - 2005"

IR e L a IXI said...

Simon, is there anyway if you can ask Reza if i can get an invite to sounds from the edge of the universe?
i totally missed out on it.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

corvimax, if you'd like to share that here, I'm sure that I and many others would appreciate it, never heard that one ...

IR e L a IXI, it's unsure what's happening with that blog at the moment, some problems with blogger being sorted soon hopefully ...

corvimax said...

To continue the series of experimental Lateef here is a kind of crossroad between jazz and classic, some middle east too, review in the zip file says it much better - just to give you an hint.
It came from eMule as a flac, decoded wav, mp3 vbr 256 eac-lame. It’ a double cd, so big file 175 MB

If permitted I’d like to share soon also a more classical Lateef that I like, a live set from 2007 at Motor City Jazz, Rose Hall, NY with a fantastic 17 minutes “Morning trilogy” (Charles McPherson, Marcus Belgrave, Wynton Marsalis, Curtis Fuller and more)
Good music max

Greg said...

swwweeeeeeeet :)

corvimax said...

Yusef Lateef live New York 2007
This is from dime some time ago. I deleted the voice of announcer that I found very annoying
It’s a radio broadcast, good sound quality. Info included

Greg said...

@ ir e l a ixi
sorry you missed out, as simon says have some stuff to sort out first with google keep checking back though :)

need to know how i can get in touch with you???

sorry for hi-jacking your thread :)

corvimax said...


see profil - some hours only -

Simon666 said...

Corvimax -
Many thanks for these generous shares.
I have added them to the Lateef discographies in this post and the last, and will download them for a listen from work later today (reaching my monthly download limit!)
Thanks again,

Rollo de Soto said...

This is awesome, I'm glad you use mediafire as well as rapidshare! You have some amazing posts here. This stuff looks sweet, Yusef Lateef rarely disappoints. Thanks!

Simon666 said...

All the blog links for "The Gentle Giant" (1972) seem to be dead now. My CD vanished a few years ago, anybody wnat to upload it here or to their blogs ?

corvimax said...

Yusef Lateef - The Gentle Giant

my mistake, I uploded 'live New York' and 'Belmondo,Yusef Lateef - Influence' with a rapidshare free account and now realize that only ten downloads are allowed.The 11th leave a note and I reup on mediafire

corvimax said...

I know track 3 is bad, this is as I got it from myfavvouritesound

Simon666 said...

Big thanks for that Corvimax. I've linked it up in the discography.

zardoz1984 said...

Great job as usual, Simon. A few comments: "The Last Savoy Sessions" (2000) at Musical Moadom seems dead, you can go to Lost Soul ( You can also find some rare Yusef @ 320 (& many others like Rashaan, etc.) at
Keep up the good work.

Simon666 said...

Thanks a lot Zardoz1984, I've added and altered all those links to the discography

Simon666 said...

Added to discography : "Jazz Moods" (1957)

Newk said...

I just noticed something that is missing from the discography: "The Complete Yusef Lateef." Anyone have a copy of that LP? It wasn't comp, if my memory is correct. Many thanks for the rest.

Simon666 said...

Hi Newk -
There's actually quite a few missing from the list, see here - This particular discography is built on what I was able to dig up from blogs - I searched for everything on the AMG list. I'd also love to hear that album, was just checking Thom Jurek's review and the previews here

Newk said...

I see. That album came to mind because it was actually my entry way into Lateef's work. Upon initial surface listening way back when, I thought that he was a victim of Joel Dorn's vision (I still think that at times of RRKirk) till I realized how much musical history was in each album, and the methods he used to musically portray life experiences. Thanks again for assembling this post.

Simon666 said...

Do you still have it Newk?
Would love to hear it ...

Simon666 said...

New link in the Yusef discography :

1959 'Beautiful Flowers" at Jazzdisposition

Slidewell said...

Lateef continues to surprise and amaze me. Thank you so much for sharing this gem.

rochus said...

I thought I had most of Lateefs music, but wasn't aware of all the OOP items.
Thanks for this great post (for the links, the info, the discography,...)

ILIAS said...

thank you so much...keep on doin'it!!!

Simon666 said...

Dead link report :

If anyone downloaded the album "Into Something" (1961) via the discography here, and would like to upload it again (blog has gone), would be much appreciated .

chazz said...

Great underecognized LP.Have CD but good post.Check out Lateef and Ricky Ford "Tenors Of" on Lateef's YAL label.It's outstanding.

Simon666 said...

Added a new link :

2006 - Festival Jazz de Cully, March 26, Chapiteau, Cully (CH) - at Jazz Bootlegs

Yusef Lateef - tenor sax, flutes (c, alto, ethnic, moan...)
Lionel Belmondo - tenor & soprano sax, flutes
Stéphane Belmondo - trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, shell
Laurent Fickelson - piano
Sylvain Romano - bass
Dre Pallemaerts - drums

01 - The Golden Flute
02 - Morning
03 - Another Avenue
04 - Enigma
05 - unknown
06 - unknown
07 - Soul Bakery & Band Intros SB
08 - Interview Belmondo 1
09 - Interview Belmondo 2
Lame, VBR, 1H36M, 140MB

Trevor said...


Some nice Yusef Lateef Impulse goodies, vinyl rips for you that I've collected recently.

A56 - Jazz 'Round the World (1963)

A84 - 1984 (1965)

Simon666 said...

Thanks Trevor, added :)

Rijk said...

Thank you, wonderful

Simon666 said...

you're welcome rijk :)

Simon666 said...

New discography link :

"Other Sounds" (1957)

Simon666 said...

New discography link :

1995 "The World at Peace" (Adam Rudolph and Yusef Lateef)

gilhodges said...

What a glorious event this post is. Yusef is a humble and brilliant artist. Think of him warmly this Friday (10/9), his 89th birthday.


grumpy said...

Amazing opus here Simon, I love Yusef's albums and I wonder if anyone has a working link for 'Beautiful Flowers" I think jazzdiposition has become private?

Simon666 said...

Hi Grumpy -
Sorry, can't find that one now.

Have added to discography :

1961 "with Mingus at Birdland" (radio broadcast) at Inconstant Sol

rm said...

Thanks to all who contribute to this wonderful YL Discography blog. Just a minor correction: Only 2 of 6 titles from the 'Jazz and the Sounds of Nature' 19571009 session are on "The Last Savoy Sessions" Album; So, the "Jazz and the sounds of nature" album would still deserve an own entry in the list, hopefully with link.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody got the album, Tenors of Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp, I need it desperately!!!!!

Many thanks,


MIInsane??? said...

Thank you so much for this great Yusef stuff!! You are the bomb!

Sergio said...

Hi, you can download yusef lateef's "the man with the big front yard" here:,1,11589-yusef-lateef-the-man-with-the-big-front-yard-3-disc.html

includes the albums:

The Complete Yusef Lateef; Yusef Lateef's Detroit; Hush 'n Thunder; and The Doctor Is In...And Out.

Essays on African Music said...

well post, i was looking the same for my essay on african music.

Essay on African Music

Anonymous said...


Peter said...

Thanks Simon for the Yusef intercontinental Epic!

Anonymous said...

Yusef Lateef & Archie Shepp