Friday Distraction: Yusef Lateef 12.27.13 Edition

One doesn’t want to limit their life and attempt such limits on others by proclaiming things like:  There should be no flutes in jazz music.  Such declarations have no place in a art form that is all about freedom and expression.

I, myself, have been guilty of such snobbery.  Which gets me to this week’s Distraction.

As tends to be the case, life on Earth has ended for more and more of our aging jazz greats.  Multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef recently joined those no longer on Earth and his passing, naturally, got me thinking about flutes in jazz.

Nope, I still don’t like them all that much.  I still recall trying to get my head around some Lateef tunes, meaty stuff with Detroit soul muscle combined with strong tendons of African, Caribbean and multitudes of world music influence.  Really good stuff…but I could never get over that flute.  My limitation and failure there.

Still, Dr. Lateef showed grace on those, like me, with small musical minds.  He played lots of things, including many “non-Western” instruments like the shofar.  Here, he’s on one of my favorite instruments, the oboe.  I could wax, poorly, poetic about the oboe, but instead I’ll just cut to the video and we can see/hear Dr. Lateef wax beautifully poetic instead.  In a 1972 quartet with Kenny Barron on piano, here’s “In the Evening.”


Here’s the whole televised session.  Have a great weekend, everybody.


P.S.:  Do yourself a favor and listen to a “hated” instrument this weekend.  I’m going for maximum mind expansion by viewing as many of these 44 jazz flute pieces as I can make it through.  I’ll admit it..the very first one is a mighty struggle.  Captain Ahab level…




2 thoughts on “Friday Distraction: Yusef Lateef 12.27.13 Edition

  1. Mark: From everything I read, the hardest thing about travel to many South American countries is not the kidney-crushing bumpy 14-hour bus rides or the altitude sickness at 10,000…it’s the ubiquitous pan-flute. Imagine it, everywhere around you. I want to go to Cusco, for instance, but…

    Meanwhile, I urge you to try making it through the aforementioned 44 jazz flute videos. Lunchtime in Cusco, Cuenca or La Paz has absolutley nothing on that. But I’m trying…

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