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