Gilles Peterson’s Arc Label to reissue Yusef Lateef’s 1969 album Detroit Latitude 42° 30′ Longitude 83°

DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson’s exploration of the Warner Music archive has led him to a standout album from a true jazz innovator. For a special reissue on his Arc label, Peterson has personally selected Yusef Lateef’s Detroit Latitude 42° 30′ Longitude 83°, an album of raw, funky blues and soul jazz that captures the intense, urban density of the motor city itself, Detroit, the city Lateef grew up in. 

By the time Lateef came to record Yusef Lateef’s Detroit for Atlantic Records in February 1969, he was a well-established and highly-regarded multi-instrumentalist who had, since the mid-1950s, cut a highly individual furrow in jazz. Recording for numerous labels including Savoy, Argo, Prestige, Riverside and Impulse. He was a progenitor for what many now call ‘spiritual jazz’ and ‘world music’, mixing jazz, folk, blues, and gospel, with funk, free improvisation, classical, meditative and Eastern musical styles; he never felt constrained by any musical dimension or stylistic limitation.

On Yusef Lateef’s Detroit, Lateef is joined by a band featuring some of the finest jazz and funk players of the era including Cecil McBee and Chuck Rainey on bass, Bernard Purdie and Roy Brooks on drums, Ray Barretto and Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath on percussion, and Jimmy Owens and Thad Jones on trumpet. The session was produced by Joel Dorn, noted for his landmark work with Roland Kirk, Eddie Harris, Roberta Flack and many others.

On some tracks, the heavy soul jazz is augmented by a string section, as heard on the first track, Bishop School. They add a dramatic texture to the pumping bass driven groove, the stabs of brass and Lateef’s urgent flute. It could easily be the theme to a gritty cop thriller or Blaxploitation flick. Things chill a little on the down-home soulful blues of Livingston Playground, a languid funk-drenched crawl through late night Detroit.  Lateef is back on the flute for Eastern Market as the band build in intensity, the horns riffing and the drums and percussion driving the dense, churning rhythm of the street while Lateef lends vocal phrases, calling out the wares and prices of the market. Belle Isle is pure proto jazz funk, a track that could bring the heat to any jazz dance battle while, on Russell and Elliott, Eric Gale’s guitar slips out a down and dirty head-nodding groove as Lateef’s horn smokes a funky blues. 

These and the other tracks on the album showcase Lateef as he further develops his sound, moving away from the meditative, spiritual sound that had characterised much of his writing in the 50s and early 60s, into a more gritty, urban soul jazz vibe. 

Yusef Lateef’s Detroit Latitude 42° 30′ Longitude 83° has been remastered from the original analogue master tapes by multi-Grammy winning engineer, Bernie Grundman (Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, Prince) and is pressed on 180g vinyl. It is presented in an exact reproduction of the original artwork with additional sleeve notes written by Dexter Gordon’s widow, Maxine Gordon, a close friend of Lateef who recalls the period when ‘Brother Yusef’ made the album.

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Loves long walks along the beach, holding hands and romantic 80's power ballads, partial to electronic music and likes to make the odd mix or two.