The Centaur and the Phoenix

The Centaur and the Phoenix

by Yusef Lateef


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From his first explosion of recordings in the mid-'50s, Yusef Lateef was a player who was always gently stretching the boundaries of his music to absorb techniques, new rhythms, and new influences from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The Centaur and the Phoenix, however, takes the risks and the innovations that Lateef was known for, and expands them in a number of different directions all at once, leading to an album that bursts with new ideas and textures, while remaining accessible, and above all, beautiful. Lateef seems eager here to take the next step musically by breaking the mold of his previous albums. While he is a gifted composer, only a third of the songs featured here are his work: the rhythm-driven flute showcase "Apathy," the gentle, nocturnal tribute to his daughter "Iqbal" and the tone poem "The Philanthropist." The best of the rest come from Kenny Barron, who was only 17 at the time, and Charles Mills, a contemporary classical composer who drew the album's self-titled highlight from two of his symphonies, the first paying tribute to Crazy Horse and the other to Charlie Parker. Providing the structure and textures needed for these intricate compositions was Lateef's largest ensemble to date. Accustomed to working in a small-group format, he makes managing a band of nine sidemen seem easy. Several Lateef regulars are here, including Barry Harris, Richard Williams, and Ernie Farrow, but the inclusion of forward-thinking musicians like Joe Zawinul also help take this album to a higher level. The greatest miracle of this recording, however, is the balance that Lateef achieves with this large group -- they are always an asset, never a distraction, and even as they come on strong and powerful on songs like "Apathy," or Barron's arrangement of "Ev'ry Day (I Fall in Love)" he remains in charge, somehow making his delicate flute (or oboe, tenor sax or argol) rise above it all, spilling out brightness, grace and joy.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/17/1992
Label: Ojc
UPC: 0025218672122
catalogNumber: 721
Rank: 92368

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Yusef Lateef   Primary Artist,Flute,Oboe,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Argol
Curtis Fuller   Trombone
Barry Harris   Piano
Joe Zawinul   Piano
Clark Terry   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Ernie Farrow   Bass
Tate Houston   Baritone Saxophone
Lex Humphries   Drums
Garvin Masseaux   Percussion
Josea Taylor   Bassoon
Ben Tucker   Bass
Roger Sanders   Percussion
Richard Gene Williams   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Curtis Fuller   Contributor
Barry Harris   Contributor
Chris Albertson   Liner Notes
Joe Zawinul   Contributor
Clark Terry   Contributor
Ernie Farrow   Contributor
Ray Fowler   Engineer
Tate Houston   Contributor
Lex Humphries   Contributor
Orrin Keepnews   Producer
Garvin Masseaux   Contributor
Bill Stoddard   Engineer
Josea Taylor   Contributor
Ben Tucker   Contributor
Ken Deardoff   Cover Design
Roger Sanders   Contributor
Richard Gene Williams   Contributor
John Levy   Producer

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