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Towards the Unknown

Artist: Yusef Lateef & Adam Rudolph
Yusef Lateef / Adam Rudolph - Towards the Unknown CD
Label: Meta
Regular Price: $13.95
On Sale For: $6.98 
Year: 2012
Format: CD


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Released to celebrate NEA Jazz Master Lateef’s 90th birthday year, Towards the Unknown showcases the deep understanding forged by Rudolph and Lateef over the past 21 years through concertos that each composed for the other in very different ways but with equally evocative results. Lateef’s “Concerto for Percussion” is perhaps one of the first concertos ever composed specifically for hand drums. It provides a dense, tension-filled score meant to serve as a launching pad for Rudolph’s improvisations. Throughout the work’s two movements, Rudolph engages the chamber orchestra in a lively conversation full of varied colors and surprising digressions. 

“Yusef wrote this piece for me as a point of inspiration,” Rudolph explains. “It’s an invitation to delve into something deeper and to respond to what I heard. It’s like dialoguing with Yusef, but his expression is the colors of the orchestra rather than him playing at that moment. I didn’t want to in anyway cover up the beauty of his orchestration, but Yusef said wanted that idea of several different realities happening at once – like a collage.”

On the night of the concerto’s world premiere, Lateef was scheduled to read a few of his poems accompanied by Rudolph’s percussion. That reading turned into a lengthy and typically entrancing duo improvisation that now serves as the raw material for Rudolph’s “Concerto for Brother Yusef.” One of those poems, the yearning “Springfield Program Rewards Good Works,” survives in the final movement, “A Better Day”, while the opening piece, “First Train”, contains an improvised primal blues sung by Lateef and inspired by Rudolph’s sintir. A tapestry intertwining that duo material with the eleven strings from Rudolph’s Go: Organic Orchestra, conducted via cued improvisational concepts, the concerto is thus something of a collage of spontaneous elements.

“There are a lot of reasons that are inexplicable and mystical about why my orchestration works with Yusef,” Rudolph says. “It has to do with breath and timing and knowledge, but it’s also the manifestation of this long-term musical and creative exchange that we’ve had over the last 21 years.”

Yusef Lateef (tenor saxophone, c flute, umtshingo flute, handiphone, pneumatic bamboo flute, vocals, poetry); Adam Rudolph (kongos, djembe, tarijas, zabumba, kongo slit drum, baganda xylophone, gongs, cup gongs, tibetan bells, cymbals, sintir, fram drum, udu drum, electronic keyboard, percussion); Orchestra of the S.E.M. conducted by Petr Kotik.
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