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YUSEF LATEEF AND ADAM RUDOLPH
TOWARDS THE UNKNOWN

SEM Ensemble, cond. Petr Kotik;
GO: Organic Orchestra Strings.
Meta/YAL 012, 47:41.
metarecords.com, roulette.org

by Steve Koenig

ADAM RUDOLPH: Concerto for Brother Yusef
YUSEF LATEEF: Percussion Concerto (for Adam Rudolph)

This pair of concerti makes a great program, obviously so by influence, but even more so musically.

Percussionist Adam Rudolph's work begins with a kalimba (or relative) and goes straight to the blues, Lateef's tenor sax all at once blue and African and jazz against a rivet of hand percussion. You can hear the resonance inside the drums. "I'm gonna catch the first train…/ Never gonna feel the same," continues this Concerto for Brother Yusef.

There is a beauty to the concerto that doesn't let up. Sections of strings straddle the work, creating intriguing textures. The final movement, "A Better Day," is a rhymed do-good poem against hunger, not too deep, and weakens an otherwise perfect composition.

Sadly, the engineers left no breathing space between the two concertos, but the music itself alerts you to the difference.

Although we're firmly in the 21st century, it is no disparagement to state that Maestro Lateef's Concerto has its feet firmly in the last third of the 20th century. Beautiful and haunting contrasting lines of individual and sectional instruments float over a denser hand-percussion flow. Masterful brass and string orchestrations make for a wonderful complement to the intermittent parallel percussive line and hypnotic stretches of solo percussion. This delights me even more because I found his previous orchestral works to be hit and miss.

Here we have hit. Should I file this under the master or the younger master, both of them extremely visible on the permanent shelf?

 



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