Yusef Lateef The Golden Flute (1966) HMV

Track Selection: Head Hunters


Yusef Lateef – born William Huddleston – (ts, fl, ob) Hugh Lawson (p) Herman Wright (b) Roy Brooks Jr. (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 15-6, 1966


For 1966 Impulse –  the other side of the cusp – this is pretty straight mainstream hard bop that sounds more like it belonged on the first half of the 60’s (which may not be unrelated to Van Gelder in the studio), but  continuing the meme of a few tracks “oriental” sounds mixed with straight jazz .The players are almost entirely unknown to me, but I warmed to pianist Hugh Lawson immediately. In case you were wondering “Where’s Yusef?” on the track selection  Head Hunters Lateef sits out entirely and the rhythm section works up a tune you’ll have in your head long after the music stops. No flute! Great!

Instant Bio: The Golden Flute was Lateef’s final recording for Impulse before moving to Atlantic, following which he moved out of recording entirely, spent the early Eighties in Nigeria, but returned to take up a musical education tenure in Massachusetts, being possibly more agreeable.  He went on to win a Grammy in 1986 in the New Age category of all things. Other Grammy-winners that year including Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and, unbelievably, someone I consider one of the worst blues guitarists it has been my misfortune to hear, Robert Cray.

The Eighties were a decade in which music all but lost its way as it morphed into popular mass culture.  As a sumit to over twenty years in musical education, Lateef was awarded a Jazz Master Fellowship in 2010.

Vinyl: HMV CLP 3615 –  UK release of US  Impulse A 9125

An inexpensive way to dip another toe in the Lateef water, the HMV/EMI engineers continue to do a creditable job engineering Impulse recordings.

The Matrix:

First UK Pressing by EMI Hayes, Middlesex – follow the curve

Collector’s Corner

Source: Central London second-hand record shop, in an area you might expect to see Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant passing by.

Not a record that sets the collector pulses racing like Lateef’s earlier Eastern Sounds, which according to Popsike maxed at over $800 for a “Mint, preview copy, probably never played” according to the straight-faced seller. What kind of preview copy didn’t get  …umm, previewed? The non-sequitur aside, that valued it to someone at nearly three times its previous best – another moment of madness on a collectors part – the lust for virgin vinyl. Prices for The Golden Flute are much more down to earth. Prices for the 99% of collectors:

The Golden Flute (max $55)

Eastern Sounds (max $815, second best $382):

How can two records by the same artist be so worlds apart. It can’t be just the cheesy Love Theme from Spartacus. Well, perhaps so. The Moodsville Eastern Sounds was being sold at a different sort of demographic and collector: “Perfect for DJs, Producers and Elite Diggers world wide!” Guess that rules me out. Though this is not quite the end of the Eastern Sounds story…as a forthcoming post will shortly reveal.

5 thoughts on “Yusef Lateef The Golden Flute (1966) HMV

  1. Did you pick up this album after my recommendation in the comments of the Easter Sounds post? Anyway, I’m glad you like it, as it is a very nice album in my opinion, and you picked my favorite track from it. Another Yusef Lateef that I could recommend is Prayer To The East on Savoy, but that’s much rarer – I don’t have it myself but have heard it at a friend’s place.

    • I am not proud, I take advice as well as give it. I have been wrong from time to time, I am always willing to take a second look when someone says , hang on, this is great, look again. I misjudged Lateef. He has grown on me, in no small measure due to your recommendation. It gets worse. I have acquired a copy of the original Eastern Sounds on Moodsville….

      • Music that took a while to grow on you will be more rewarding in the end I think, especially with an intriguing album like Eastern Sounds. It’s the kind of album that sounds better every time I hear it, so I think you don’t need to regret getting an original. I hope I can get an original too, at some point (I’ll have to do with the Fantasy pressing until that time), and meanwhile I’m looking forward to the upcoming post about it.

  2. I love all of Lateef’s LPs for Impulse and have first pressings of them all (it took awhile!). Occasionally, you can find a true first pressing in great shape for $10 to $20. You have to be willing to gamble on the ubiquitous VG+ grade (are they grading it VG+ because the LP is still black and round-shaped, or VG+ when its actually EX or better because they are being conservative!). My favorite may be Live at Pep’s – or Psychicemotus, or A Flat, G Flat and C – you get the idea!

    • I’m with you on Lateef. Starting out I didn’t like him, but the more I play him, the more he gets under my skin. I keep playing Plum Blossom on Eastern Sounds, with him on Chinese globular “flute”. Great! We tend not to see original Impulse much here on our little island -I think they are all sitting in crates somewhere in the Mid-West going for a song.
      I like your definition of VG+ – black and round – it’s the hole on the middle that’s the “plus”

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