Beyond the Sky

YUSEF LATEEF - Tenor Saxophone, Alto and C Flutes, Nepali Flute, Shenai, Deeraphone, Moan Flute, Selya Flute

ADAM RUDOLPH - Handdrumset (Djembe, Congas), Udu Drum, Kalangu, Midi-Drums, East African Harp, Percussion

JOSEPH BOWIE - Trombone, Sabar, Congas, Conch Shells, Percussion

MARK HELAIS - Double Bass

RALPH JONES - Alto & C Flutes, Bass Clarinet, Tenor & Soprano Saxophones, Bassoon, Hichiriki, Nepali Flute

ALEX MARCELO - Piano, Djun-Djun

CHARLES MOORE - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Conch Shells, Batajon, Karinya

M. ABIDH WAUGH - Electro-Acoustic Computer Processing, Electric Guitar

Among all the things the composed and performed music of Yusef Lateef and Adam Rudolph inspire are the limitless vistas of freedom for the listener and for those writers foolhardy enough to interpret it.
      Aptly titled "Beyond the Sky", the music is an expansive suite of panoramic scenes, a visual odyssey allowing each individual to apply his or her own scenario.  The diverse, picturesque tonal images here are as global and grandeur as they are familiar to one who has been fortunate enough to be transfixed in a circle of puzzled ochre-laden Sambura in Tanzania; awed by the tiny Lacandon people who dwell in the Zacateca Mountains of Guatemala; caught in the swirl of urban wizards of Bahia and their mesmeric birembaus; charmed by the mystical gypsies on the outskirts of Detroit passing through each summer with their guitars and violins; and beguiled by Mississippi Delta bluesmen and women taking their cues from some ancient text older than the eyes of Ogotemmeli the Dogon seer.
     "Beyond the Sky" opens like a firest dawn as the Grimaldi on some distant African plain might have seen it. Lateef is Orpheus/Horus beckoning the sun with his golden flute of pwoerful tranquility, inviting the 21 rays of Amen-Ra to bless his band with an eternal wind of wonder.  A primordial, unbroken drone stretches under Rudolph's earthen heartbeat that anticipates a village coming to life full of song.  Then there are phonemic utterances stimulated by the drum, and the words of antiquity are infused with the blues.
     It could be a Twa village gathering itself in some untrammeled Ituri rainforest, amazed to be encountering another day of festivities. The balance of rituals is tuned to the symmetry of nature, and for each sound there is new meaning to beauty and harmony. Charles Moore's offering is the essence of language, phrases formed with an intuitive feel for basic communication somehow alloyed to the tongue, words shaped by embouchure that are given a wider significance when forged in an ensemble context of bass wind and strings.
     Early morning somber is replaced by a rhythmic choir of drums, and the muezzin with shenai calls spirit forces to worship. Communal ceremonies are punctuated by an exchange of griot chants between Lateef and Ralph Jones, whose soprano sax sets the Twa-light tones for piano and bass duet as evening settles into the night's enveloping density. Then all is suffused with Lateef's poignant flute, a solitary Banda meditating on the impenetrable mystery of darkness, the "dreamtime" of the Twa.      Around the village fire Joseph Bowie comes with a stroy about the adventure that lurks behind the next bend in the Zambesi River; he speakes of conquest and a fearless need to face the two thousand seasons. Lateef tenderly recalls a princess of life and love, how she gracefully moved among the men of the mbanjo and invoking cries of "jamil", the beautiful one. The night fires flickered and the men set aside their instruments to listen to a grander music deep in the bush.
     An opaque moon dances above, an occasional ray falling where the men lay with their dreams illuminated, waiting for tomorrow's sun. Comes the moment of renewal and the refreshed ensemble is a collection of testimony from dreamtime. Each has a distinct narrative to report, each a tale to relate-and Rudolph's drum binds the separate soliloquies, unifying the voices and they speak as one. There is no hunger and no tears.
     A new day dawns and the rhythm of the people resume a cycle toward discovery and mastery of time. To see where you have been you replay the music, but now the scene has changed, and you futilely search teh path from the bow of the Mbuti that morphs to the coordinated resonance of voice and a mellow Dravidian pakhawaj.
     It is the universality of "Beyond the Sky" that enraptures, a world music capable of evoking a variety of feelings in ever changing venues. The journey is reminiscent of the late poet's lyrics about another wondrous moment--"where echoes shine and reflections ring". Lateef and Rudolph have added yet another dimension in their quest to capture the essence of our life and harmony on this side of the sky
.           --Herb Boyd, May 2000