4 August 2006
YUSEF LATEEF - LIVE AT PEPS
Live at Pep's" memorializes a 1964 Lateef performance at the then-famous Philadelphia lounge. The set features Lateef's exotic sounds on oboe and wood flute,his rooted-in-the-earth blues playing on alto and the fine trumpet stylings of the late Richard Williams. If there's a complaint, it's that some of the tunes are too brief.
Lateef's ability to manage the recalcitrant double reed of the oboe is immediately demonstrated on "Sister Mami," where he rides herd over a sinuous, whining line that manages to sound bluesy and Eastern at the same time. Williams contributes a great, flashy trumpet break, but it doesn't last long enough.
There's plenty of blues throughout, the best being "Number 7" and "12 Tone Blues." The former is a kind of blues trilogy that goes through some interesting changes and features some fine harmonizing by Lateef and Williams and nice work by the underrated Mike Nock on piano.
Lateef is not the most technically gifted player around, but his playing has lots of soul and emotion and like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, he's never been afraid to stretch the boundaries of jazz with new instrumentation and incorporation of nontraditional influences. And any recording that gives us another taste of Richard Williams is to be valued. Great album from one of jazz's solid citizens.