Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sacred Space: Yusef Lateef Live

Iqbal Remembered

When I read:

Grace Cathedral’s soaring vault produces a natural, seven-second reverberation. This effect, different from typical concert hall acoustics, will be an integral component of this performance.”

I was instantly intrigued…

     From nowhere, a strange whistling sound fills the air.  Reverberating throughout the entire cathedral, we turn our heads like owls, looking all over for Yusef Lateef.  The sustained whistling, building atop its own resonance, gets louder as Adam Rudolph enters the sanctuary.  Twirling a long tube over his head, the source of the sound, he slowly marches down the aisle.  Suddenly, light and staccato notes from a flute enters the space; played by Yusef.  Ninety years old, He joins Rudolph’s small steps around the entire sanctuary.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard music with a fragrance.
Sage and Amber

     Taking center stage, they begin to make sounds that could be best described as impressions.  Clapping the palm of his hand at the end of his flute, Yusef, sounding like the first scattered drops of rain.  Softy playing his extensive collection of hand drums and cymbals, Adam impersonates a distant storm slowly drawing near.  Removing the instrument from his lips, Yusef begins to sing a haunting rendition of “When The Saint Go Marching In.”  Lamenting about when “The Sun refusing to shine.”  The sounds they were producing, painted a clear picture of dark clouds gathering…Geese migrating…Leaves trembling on windblown limbs.
     Seeing them live was an enveloping experience.  Skillfully, their instruments created images…spirits were invoked…mankind was dissected.  We witnessed eggs hatching alongside pristine riverbanks.  The audience were placed in the conflict between man’s loud thoughts and the small, still voice of God.  Our sneezing, shuffling pant legs and cracking joints became part of the musical suite.  Somehow, between woodwind instruments and percussion, they’ve managed to impersonate life.