Yusef Lateef, Roscoe Mitchell,
Douglas Ewart, Adam Rudolph
release date - August 2013
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YUSEF LATEEF: TENOR SAXOPHONE, OBOE, C FLUTE, ALTO FLUTE, BAMBOO FLUTES, VOCAL AND PIANO (Piano on track 3).
ROSCOE MITCHELL: SOPRANO, SOPRANINO AND ALTO SAXOPHONES, C FLUTE, BELLS, PERCUSSION.
ADAM RUDOLPH: CONGAS AND TUMBAS, FRAME DRUM, KALIMBA, BERBER HORN, PERCUSSION AND PIANO (Piano on track 2).
DOUGLAS R. EWART: SOPRANINO SAXOPHONES, C FLUTE, GLASS DIDGERIDOO, VOICE, BASS CLARINET, GONGS, BELLS, PERCUSSION, SIRENS and EWART HOTCHIKU, BASS TRANSVERSE FLUTE AND OTHER BAMBOO FLUTES.
A) Voice Prints 30:18
B) Sound Search 20:11
C) Harpers Ferry 5:14
D) Morning Moves 2:53
Music co-composed by Yusef Lateef, Roscoe Mitchell, Adam Rudolph and Douglas R. Ewart.
Produced by Yusef Lateef, Douglas Ewart and Adam Rudolph
Recorded live at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN. December 2008 by Brent Alwin.
Mix and mastering by James Dellatacoma at Orange Music Sound Studio, New Jersey
"Performance begins with shamanism," says Douglas Ewart, who formed the quartet in this concert. "Yusef Lateef brought magic to this group," says Adam Rudolph. From Lateef's serene flute and the soft taps and tings that open Voice Prints, this music casts a spell. While there are subsequent lightning flashes and also extended passages of energy and aggression in this concert, the fundamental serenity of this music's setting is never violated. Here, serenity is a calm yet active state of being, not at all passive--a state of sensitivity, alert awareness, responsiveness. Magic? Certainly here is a world beyond worldly beats, where spirits meet, enhance each other, and speak to us.
From around America, from Massachusetts (Lateef), northern California (Mitchell), southern California (Rudolph), from Minnesota (Ewart), they gathered in Minneapolis to play together for the first time, in this concert. Are you surprised to discover ex-Detroiter Lateef improvising along with three leading ex-Chicago free spirits? "He has such a wide musical spectrum and a musical vision," says Ewart. "His vision is inclusive, not exclusive--he welcomes younger musicians and other visions," and Rudolph emphasizes Lateef's "deep feeling and spiritual awareness." Of course, these Chicagoans are musical globetrotters themselves. Like Lateef, all three have worked with African musicians, plus Jamaica-born Ewart has also studied flutes in Japan and Australia and Adam Rudolph has lived in West Africa and studied North Indian percussion. All four have so much to share, to inspire each other--there are no barriers.
"Yusef Lateef pioneered world music," points out Ewart. From Lateef's earliest albums, beginning in 1957, he was among the first modern-improvising flutists, he introduced exotic double-reed horns, and he played fluent, transitional swing-to-bop tenor sax music with a light sound in all registers. He began a lifelong breakaway from the standard repertoire of American-pop chord changes to instead introduce songs from Asia, Africa, Japan, and European classical music. It's no wonder his vision and mastery inspired his Chicago juniors. In 1988 he began his stimulating partnership with Adam Rudolph, who shares his fascination with fusing diverse musical cultures. They've composed together and often performed in settings from duets to large orchestras.
Since Roscoe Mitchell's previous Delmark album Sound Songs (1996) and the loss of Malachi Favors and Lester Bowie, he worked with tenorist Fred Anderson and trumpeter Corey Wilkes among others in later editions of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He also composed a major work, Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City, for orchestra and voice. It's based on the same Joseph Jarman poem that's the source of a great Jarman performance, in the album Song For (Delmark 410)--how rare to have two very important, very different pieces based upon the same poem. Since 2007 he's held the distinguished Darius Milhaud chair of Musical Composition at Mills College.
When Chicago's AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and its school were new, Douglas Ewart studied under Mitchell. While he was in the process of becoming an inspired alto saxophonist, he also began crafting musical instruments. His beautifully decorated, large and small bamboo flutes, played by a number of jazz artists, are perhaps best known. He's also created didgeridoos, colorful rain sticks, even bamboo saxophones, among other instruments, which he's exhibited as well as played. Meanwhile he played in Fred Anderson's historic 1970s sextet, which resulted in many later collaborations with trombonist George Lewis and reunions with Anderson. Among the groups Ewart has led are his Clarinet Choir and Nyabinghi Drum Choir; and his Inventions ensembles; he's usually offered multimedia works, often grand spectacles including music, poetry, dance, video.
Percussionist Adam Rudolph first played with Ewart in Fred Anderson's group in 1970’s played on Anderson's first American album The Missing Link (Nessa). By then he'd begun his exploration of world musical cultures as cofounder (with kora master Foday Musa Suso) of the Mandingo Griot Society as well as Gnawa master Hassan Hakmoun; his subsequent fusions of international musics include his percussion group Hu: Vibrational, his octet Moving Pictures and his Go: Organic Orchestra, which includes up to 54 musicians and offers his unique concepts of marrying composition and improvisation. As Ewart was planning this concert, it was Rudolph who suggested including Lateef.
Voice Prints is a kind of tone poem, with curves of feeling that subtly change and expand as if it could be a large composition, Yet all of Voice Prints is improvised: "The only parts worked out were, we planned sections where Roscoe and I or Yusef and Adam would play together--here would be duos, here would be quartet." In the long "Voice Prints" track textures very slowly and subtly, but inevitably, move from the opening calm, spaced intensity, becoming deeper, higher, more complex. By the middle, it’s a three saxes-hand drums improvisation. In the last eight minutes textures gather then scatter as Lateef makes stark, spacy tones. "Sound Search" begins as a tenor-drums duet, becomes by contrast a fantastic, intense Mitchell sopranino sax statement, and concludes in an especially lovely section of three flutes over a quiet piano. The two concluding tracks, then, are so very soft, quiet: the spirits are united in peace.
- John Litweiler
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