YUSEF LATEEF — The Blue Yusef Lateef (review)

YUSEF LATEEF — The Blue Yusef Lateef album cover Album · 1968 · Blues Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Sean Trane
Yusef’s generally most acknowledged second half of the 60’s album, The Blue Yusef, indeed the album has some credential at being among his better works in a very prolific career, though some jazz purists would probably beg to differ. As you’ll guess by the title, the album features much blues, a good deal of it being 12 bars, and a rarer 16 bars one, which sounds more mysterious. This could Ysef’s first album for Ahmet Ertegun’s Attlantic label (coming after from his impulse period), as well.

Opening on the bluesy Juba, Yusef brings immediate depth by mixing harmonica (courtesy of Buddy Lucas) and highly evocative from The Sweet Inspirations. The following 8-mins Like It Is has a highly haunting melody, first opening on an enchanted flute, then segueing in a delightful sax, then the underlying Lawson piano unleashes and a string quartet concludes in a masterful way. The exotic sounding (I’d say far-east, mixed with south-eastern Asia roots) Moon Cup is based on Phrygian scales, and it’s probably the least accessible track on the album. Othelia is a rather standard boogie blues with little interest, unlike the train-like rhythms of Back Home, where the harmonica returns, along some demented sax and percussions. Get Over and the rest of the flipside are different versions of blues. Not really YL’s most representative album, but the first and third tracks are among my faves of his.
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