Walker Art Center
6 December 2008
Some more Yusef Lateef coming up, but 47 years removed from the previous posting with the Mingus Jazz Workshop at Birdland and in a totally different setting. This is Lateef with percussionist Adam Rudolph, a collaborator over many years. Added is Roscoe Mitchell, saxophonist with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Douglas Ewart, Minneapolis-based multi-instrumentalist and instrument maker, the latter two long-time members of Chicago's famed AACM.
The meeting-up was instigated by Ewart who saw a connection between the AACM's explorations of sound beyond the jazz idiom and Lateef's musical studies of the cultures of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, his fascination for home-made instruments and found objects and his combination of music with poetry and recitations.
For Lateef, jazz is an odious word. "Jazz is defined as doggerel, skullduggery, poppycock, coquetry, sexual intercourse. It has nothing to do with what I do. After I graduated from the Manhattan School of Music I was asked to teach a course in the theory department and I had to name the course, so I called it autophysiopsychic music. It comes from a state of introspection. It means music from the physical, mental, and spiritual self." (from an article by Rick Mason in Minneapolis' City Pages).
Further: The material "will be created at the time," Lateef said. But don't call it improvisation. "That's another term that's used improperly," he said. "When you look at the definition of improvisation, it is to do something without previous preparation. But your whole life is preparation."
As for the AACM, "I hear they're comparable to what I do," Lateef said. According to Rudolph, "Yusef's vision and aesthetic have had an impact on a lot of AACM musicians."
So what we have here is close to two hours of intense autophysiopsychic music from the group of four. Lateef is basically on tenor sax, but also doubles on flute and piano, recites his own poetry and contributes vocals. Mitchell is certainly on alto sax and Rudolph on percussion. Ewart is on soprano, bass clarinet, flute, didgeridoo and all add percussion and small instruments. There is an amazing sax solo section emplying what sounds like circular breathing which might be Ewart, but only listening to the audio, one cannot know for sure.
All in all, an amazing two hours of introspection. Best listened to on earphones and demanding your full attention.