Yusef Lateef: Transmutation


Transmutation (second movement from The African-American Epic Suite)


Yusef Lateef (flutes, tenor sax, algaita, shannie)


The African-American Epic Suite (ACT WDR 892 142)

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Yusef Lateef (flutes, tenor sax, algaita, shannie),

Adam Rudolph (bells, cymbals, gongs, hand drums, tablas, didjeridoo, whistles, percussion), Ralph Jones (flutes, bass clarinet, soprano & tenor saxes, hichiriki), Federico Ramos (acoustic guitar), Charles Moore (shofar, dumbek, conch shells), Kölner Rundfunkorchester (Cologne Radio Orchestra) directed by David de Villiers


Composed by Yusef Lateef


Recorded: Cologne, Germany, October-November 1993


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

In the context of Yusef Lateef's African-American Epic Suite, "Transmutation" refers to the metamorphosis of blacks abducted to the New World. No longer Africans, never to be fully accepted as Americans, they become an uneasy hybrid: African Americans. Third Stream seems readymade for such drama, being neither European classical nor American jazz, but their amalgamation. Lateef emphasizes this cultural disparity by pitting "primitive" instruments, including drums, whistles and conch shells, against a more "sophisticated" German symphony orchestra, with stunning effect. Like the bowels of a slave ship, this music is not for the fainthearted. It is provocative, disquieting and powerfully moving.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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