Yusef Lateef – The Centaur and The Phoenix (Full Album)

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The Centaur and the Phoenix is an album by multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef recorded in 1960 and released on the Riverside label.

AllMusic Review by Stacia Proefrock:
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 (https://goo.gl/drtLvj).

Track listing:
All compositions by Yusef Lateef except as indicated

“Revelation” (Kenny Barron) – 6:02
“Apathy” – 5:25
“Ev’ry Day (I Fall in Love)” (Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal) – 6:59
“The Centaur and the Phoenix” (Charles Mills) – 5:37
“Iqbal” – 4:51
“Summer Song” (Mills) – 5:26
“The Philanthropist” – 4:02

Bonus tracks on CD reissue:

“Jungle Fantasy” (Esy Morales) – 2:42
“Titora” (Billy Taylor) – 2:25

Personnel:
Yusef Lateef – tenor saxophone, flute, arghul, oboe
Richard Williams – trumpet
Clark Terry – flugelhorn, trumpet
Curtis Fuller – trombone
Josea Taylor – bassoon
Tate Houston – baritone saxophone
Joe Zawinul – piano
Ben Tucker – bass
Lex Humphries – drums
Kenny Barron – arranger.

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Released: 1960
Recorded: October 4 and 6, 1960 (#1-7)
Plaza Sound Studios, New York City
June 23, 1961 (#8-9)
Bell Sound Studios, New York City
Length: 42:24
Label: Riverside
RLP 337
Producer: Orrin Keepnews

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