Yusef Lateef: Cry! – Tender

Lateef's 1959 album, here reissued on vinyl, reflected his new interest in Eastern music, combining modal flavours with the oboe and argol


On this vinyl reissue we get the original Cry! – Tender album first issued on the New Jazz label plus a couple of bonus tracks. It serves as a reminder that at that time Lateef had become interested in sounds from the East; hence the use of the oboe, not in common usage in jazz, and a brief introduction of the argol, a flute-like instrument.

The oboe appears on the opening track Sea Breeze, a gentle introduction to music that features the leader on three of his main instruments, although the flute only gets an outing on Dopolous.

Lateef is very articulate throughout, perhaps exposing Hillyer as a little mechanical by comparison, whether it be on his originals or on the standards Yesterdays and If You Could See Me Now – the second of these being a lovely illustration of his skill with a melody. Interestingly, on When You’re Smiling, recorded a couple of years after the album, Lateef employs a much fatter tone in the company of Harris and Jones.

When reviewing the album in Downbeat, Benny Green suggested it was “among the more quietly exciting albums produced this year”. Maybe in the 21st century, with the appropriate hindsight, contemporary listeners might find it solid rather than exciting, but as an introduction to Lateef it stands up well.

(1) Sea Breeze; (2) Dopolous; (3) Cry! – Tender; (4) Butter’s Blues; (5) Quarantine; (6) Yesterdays; (7) The Snow Is Green; (8) If You Could See Me Now; (9) Ecaps; (9) When You’re Smiling (48.55)
(1) Lateef (o); Hugh Lawson (p); Herman Wright (b); Frank Gant (d). Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 16 October 1959. (2) as (1) but Lateef (f) and add Lonnie Hillyer (t). (3) as (1) but Lateef (o, ts). (4) as (1) but Lateef (ts) and Hillyer (t). (5) Lateef (ts) and Lex Humphries (d) replaces Gant. New York, 9 May 1960. (6) as (1) but add Hillyer (t). (7) as (4) but Lateef (argol, ts). (8) Lateef (ts); Wilbur Harden (flh); Lawson (p); Ernie Farrow (b); Oliver Jackson (d). Hackensack, NJ, 11 October 1957. (9) Lateef (ts); Barry Harris (p); Wright (b); Elvin Jones (d). Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 29 December 1961.
WaxTime 772333