Great playing, no matter the instrument
Yusef Lateef, whose warm tone and sense of melody ought to be his claim to fame, is instead best known for his unusual choice of instruments. Not many jazz musicians play oboe, bassoon or bamboo flute. But Lateef doesn't use these instruments as gimmicks; rather, he incorporates the different tonal shades they bring to his musical canvas.
Listening to Lateef play a blues like "See See Rider" on oboe makes the listener realize just how well-suited the nasal tones of that little-used instrument are to jazz and blues. Of course, he's as comfortable on tenor sax as he is on the above instruments, as his reading of the standard "You've Changed" shows.
This two-CD set, Rhino's latest in a series of jazz anthologies from Atlantic's historic vaults, includes numerous photographs, extensive liner notes and a handsome cloth-covered folio for holding the discs. Still, it's Lateef's wonderful playing that's the real attraction here, and on that score, the set is a gem.
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