YUSEF LATEEF — Hush 'n' Thunder (review)

YUSEF LATEEF — Hush 'n' Thunder album cover Album · 1973 · RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
This HnT release might seem somewhat of an oddball to YL fans, maybe because most of the tracks are attributed to pianist Kenny Barron, who happens to be all over it. Recorded at Atlantic’s studio in 72, the album is fairly representative of those days’ 60’s jazz artistes trying to find their way through a changed music landscapes where they had lost their spot.

Opening with Duke’s Come Sunday with only Yusef’s flute and a cello, the album veers fusiony with the following funky The Hump that prefigures the later-70’s jazz-funk - and YL’s own APP release four years later. The two-parts 8-mins Opus is much more of a pure fusion piece, despite opening very softly, but Barron’s Rhodes and Yusef’s flute, both underlined by a lovely cello, are pure bliss; the second movement slowly gains momentum and we can hear YL’s heavy air intake to blow in the flute, much like what Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson did and included it in his music. Closing the A-side is a weird semi-gospel and NO jazz This Old Building piece that opens on construction machine noises. Definitely out of context, if you ask me.

The flipside opens on the funky Prayer that features the shannai (that’s an Indian wind instrument that looks like a kazoo – its spelling varies) and a pneumatic flute (wtf is that?? ;-), but we’re again dealing in the region of The Hump. The almost 8-mins Sunset is dissonant and could be compared to Mwandishi’s calmer moments. The Sparrow cover piece is a return to the gospel thing, and personally, I find it insufferably long and overstaying its welcome by the third of its duration (gospel is really not the thing of this atheist). The closing Destination Paradise is an atmospheric piece that relates well with the Opus and Sunset fusion pieces.

I’m not sure I would define this album as post-bop, because it’s an extremely varied affair, ranging from gospel-soul to pure fusion. I personally fully endorse its adventurous fusion part and to an extent its funk extension, but personally can’t stand the gospel part, which I not only find intrusive, but ruining the album’s cohesiveness.

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