Review: Yusef Lateef – Atlantis Lullaby – The Concert From Avignon


Yusef Lateef’s performance in Atlantis Lullaby is a masterclass in communication and demonstration of synergy. In this previously unreleased performance recorded in Avignon, France in 1972, Lateef, on soprano sax, tenor sax and flute, is accompanied by Kenny Barron on piano, Bob Cunningham on bass and Albert Tootie Heath on drums.

This two-CD package is being released by Elemental Music and produced for release by Zev Feldman. It contains a 23-page booklet with stories and reminiscences about Lateef from Feldman, Barron and Heath, among others.

Yusef Lateef - Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon [2 CD] - Music

CD1 opens with Barron’s “Inside Atlantis” and it becomes quite evident from the opening notes that this is not just a concert—it is a dialogue between seasoned musicians who speak a common language. In this torrid up-tempo number, Lateef lays down a marker with his dominating presence and his mastery of the tenor. Barron’s piano is a wellspring of improvisation in his lengthy solo. Cunningham and Heath keep the rhythmic drive as they engage with the other instruments. A lovely Barron ballad called “A Flower” follows and is a duet between Barron and Lateef on the flute. Combining Barron’s versatility and inventiveness along with Lateef’s brilliance, it ends with a focused, contemplative sound. The only Lateef composition is “Lateef’s Mood.” In this New Orleans-based blues, Barron is in full-stride piano mode and delivers chorus after chorus at full throttle. When Lateef comes in, he weaves in and out of Barron’s boisterous piano lines with force and determination.

CD2 brings the Great American Songbook into play with the George Bassman/Ned Washington composition “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.” Lateef and Barron give the number a sensitive reading with each providing solos filled with beauty, structure, and logic. The closing track is the Barron original “The Untitled,” and it is the lengthiest composition in the session. It begins as a brazen swinger filled with Eastern undercurrents in which Cunningham is an important voice. Throughout the process of the number, Lateef and his bandmates are fearlessly navigating the sonic landscape, pushing the boundaries and taking risks with each new idea. Overall the concert is a journey of exploration and self-discovery, and goes beyond technical proficiency and is more than just a series of notes.

Related Post