Bennie Maupin/Adam Rudolph

Symphonic Tone Poem For Brother Yusef

This is a fitting tribute to a legend, a stalwart practitioner of the music that is meant to grant us freedom. For Yusef Lateef, to achieve freedom was often in channeling sounds that were mired in the lessons given in the natural word: wind, water and all the elements we notice when ourselves are silent. So it is for his longtime collaborator percussionist Adam Rudolph and fellow reedist Bennie Maupin, who offer this tone poem in tribute.

Originally commissioned by the Angel City Jazz Festival to mark the 100th anniversary of Lateef’s birth (October 2020), the project consists of five movements. Rudolph deploys a range of percussive sounds to evoke the memory of Lateef, while Maupin’s playing is subtle and pensive.

This complex palette offers space for an expressive engagement with intuition, moving where one is lead. It is improvisation but it also feels much like there is a direction. Perhaps Lateef was pointing the way. The album’s beautiful artwork by Nancy Jackson is based on Lateef’s saying, “Have you noticed the leaves waving to you? It’s OK to wave back.” Wherever he is now, I like to imagine that he is waving back, too.

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