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Yusef Lateef

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Title: Yusef Lateef  
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Subject: Tom McClung, In a Temple Garden, Stable Mates, Afro-Soul/Drum Orgy, Louis Hayes (album)
Collection: 1920 Births, 2013 Deaths, African-American Musicians, African-American Muslims, American Ahmadis, American Jazz Composers, American Jazz Flautists, American Jazz Oboists, American Jazz Saxophonists, American Jazz Tenor Saxophonists, American Multi-Instrumentalists, American Muslims, Atlantic Records Artists, Avant-Garde Jazz Musicians, Converts to Islam, Grammy Award Winners, Hampshire College Faculty, Hard Bop Flautists, Hard Bop Oboists, Impulse! Records Artists, Manhattan School of Music Alumni, Musicians from Detroit, Michigan, Prestige Records Artists, Riverside Records Artists, Savoy Records Artists, University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni, University of Massachusetts Amherst Faculty, Wayne State University Alumni
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Yusef Lateef

Yusef Abdul Lateef
Lateef in a 2007 performance
Background information
Birth name William Emanuel Huddleston
Also known as Yusef Lateef
Born (1920-10-09)October 9, 1920
Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
Died December 23, 2013(2013-12-23) (aged 93)
Shutesbury, Massachusetts
United States
Genres New-age music, jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion, swing, hard bop, third stream, world music
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, educator, spokesman, author
Instruments Tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bassoon, bamboo flute, shehnai, shofar, arghul, koto, piano, vocals.
Years active 1955–2013
Labels Savoy, Prestige, Verve, Riverside, Impulse, Atlantic, CTI, YAL Records
Associated acts Cannonball Adderley
Website .com.yuseflateefwww

Yusef Abdul Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston; October 9, 1920 – December 23, 2013) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and prominent member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community following his conversion to Islam in 1950.

Although Lateef's main instruments were the tenor saxophone and flute, he also played oboe and bassoon, both rare in jazz, and also used a number of non-western instruments such as the bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, xun, arghul and koto. He is known for having been an innovator in the blending of jazz with "Eastern" music.[1] Peter Keepnews, in his New York Times obituary of Lateef, wrote that the musician "played world music before world music had a name."[2]

Lateef wrote and published a number of books including two novellas entitled A Night in the Garden of Love and Another Avenue, the short story collections Spheres and Rain Shapes, also his autobiography, The Gentle Giant, written in collaboration with Herb Boyd.[3] Along with his record label YAL Records, Lateef owned Fana Music, a music publishing company. Lateef published his own work through Fana, which includes Yusef Lateef's Flute Book of the Blues and many of his own orchestral compositions.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and career 1.1
    • Prominence 1.2
    • Later career 1.3
  • Discography 2
    • As Leader/Co-leader 2.1
    • As sideman 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Early life and career

Lateef was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His family moved, in 1923, to Lorain, Ohio, and again in 1925, to Detroit, Michigan, where his father changed the family's name to "Evans".[4]

Throughout his early life Lateef came into contact with many Detroit-based jazz musicians who went on to gain prominence, including vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Elvin Jones and guitarist Kenny Burrell. Lateef was a proficient saxophonist by the time of his graduation from high school at the age of 18, when he launched his professional career and began touring with a number of swing bands. The first instrument he bought was an alto saxophone but after a year he switched to the tenor saxophone, influenced by the playing of Lester Young.[5]

In 1949, he was invited by Dizzy Gillespie to tour with his orchestra. In 1950, Lateef returned to Detroit and began his studies in composition and flute at Wayne State University. It was during this period that he converted to Islam as a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.[6] He twice made the pilgrimage to Mecca.[7]


Lateef performing in Hamburg, 1971

Lateef began recording as a leader in 1957 for Savoy Records, a non-exclusive association which continued until 1959; the earliest of Lateef's album's for the Prestige subsidiary New Jazz overlap with them. Musicians such as Wilbur Harden (trumpet, flugelhorn), bassist Herman Wright, drummer Frank Gant, and pianist Hugh Lawson were among his collaborators during this period.

By 1961, with the recording of Into Something and Eastern Sounds, Lateef's dominant presence within a group context had emerged. His 'Eastern' influences are clearly audible in all of these recordings, with spots for instruments like the rahab, shanai, arghul, koto and a collection of Chinese wooden flutes and bells along with his tenor and flute. Even his use of the western oboe sounds exotic in this context; it is not a standard jazz instrument. Indeed, the tunes themselves are a mixture of jazz standards, blues and film music usually performed with a piano/bass/drums rhythm section in support. Lateef made numerous contributions to other people's albums including his time as a member of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's Quintet during 1962–64.

Lateef's sound has been claimed to have been a major influence on the saxophonist John Coltrane, whose later period free jazz recordings contain similarly "Eastern" traits. For a time (1963–66) Lateef was signed to Coltrane's label, Impulse. He had a regular working group during this period, with trumpeter Richard Williams and Mike Nock on piano.

In the late 1960s he began to incorporate contemporary soul and gospel phrasing into his music, still with a strong blues underlay, on albums such as Detroit and Hush'n'Thunder. Lateef expressed a dislike of the terms "jazz" and "jazz musician" as musical generalizations.[8] As is so often the case with such generalizations, the use of these terms do understate the breadth of his sound. For example, in the 1980s, Lateef experimented with new-age and spiritual elements.

In 1960, Lateef again returned to school, studying flute at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Music in 1969 and a master's degree in music education in 1970. Starting in 1971, he taught courses in "autophysiopsychic music" at the Manhattan School of Music, and he became an associate professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in 1972.

In 1975, Lateef completed his dissertation on Western and Islamic education and earned a Ed.D. in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In the early 1980s Lateef was a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Nigerian Cultural Studies at Ahmadu Bello University in the city of Zaria, Nigeria. Returning to the US in 1986 he took a joint teaching position at the University of Massachusetts and Hampshire College.

Later career

Lateef performing in 2007 at the Detroit Jazz Festival

His 1987 album Yusef Lateef's Little Symphony won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.[9][10] His core influences, however, were clearly rooted in jazz, and in his own words: "My music is jazz."[11]

In 1992, Lateef founded YAL Records. In 1993, Lateef was commissioned by the WDR Radio Orchestra Cologne to compose The African American Epic Suite, a four-part work for orchestra and quartet based on themes of slavery and disfranchisement in the United States. The piece has since been performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

In 2010 he received the lifetime Jazz Master Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an independent federal agency.[10][12] Established in 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award is the highest honor given in jazz.[13]

Manhattan School of Music, where Lateef had earned a bachelor's and a master's degree, awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012.

Lateef's last albums were recorded for Adam Rudolph's "Meta Records". To the end of his life, he continued to teach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Hampshire College in western Massachusetts. Lateef died on the morning of December 23, 2013, at the age of 93, survived by his son, Yusef Lateef and his wife, Ayesha Lateef.[14]


As Leader/Co-leader

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1957 Jazz Mood Savoy Debut release from second recording session
1957 Jazz for the Thinker Savoy
1957 Stable Mates Savoy Split album with A. K. Salim
1957 Before Dawn: The Music of Yusef Lateef Verve
1957 Prayer to the East Savoy
1957 Jazz and the Sounds of Nature Savoy
1957 The Sounds of Yusef Prestige
1957 Other Sounds Prestige/New Jazz Released 1959
1958 Lateef at Cranbrook Argo Live album
1959 The Dreamer Savoy
1959 The Fabric of Jazz Savoy
1959 Cry! – Tender Prestige/New Jazz Includes one track from 1957
1960 The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef Riverside
1960 The Centaur and the Phoenix Riverside
1961 Lost in Sound Charlie Parker
1961 Eastern Sounds Prestige/Moodsville
1961 Into Something Prestige/New Jazz
1963 Jazz 'Round the World Impulse!
1964 Live at Pep's Impulse! Live album
1965 1984 Impulse! Live album
1965 Psychicemotus Impulse!
1966 A Flat, G Flat and C Impulse!
1966 The Golden Flute Impulse!
1967 The Complete Yusef Lateef Atlantic
1968 The Blue Yusef Lateef Atlantic
1969 Yusef Lateef's Detroit Atlantic Includes one track from 1967
1969 The Diverse Yusef Lateef Atlantic Includes one track from 1968
1970 Suite 16 Atlantic
1971 The Gentle Giant Atlantic Includes two tracks from 1970
1972 Hush 'N' Thunder Atlantic
1973 Part of the Search Atlantic Includes one track from 1971
1974 10 Years Hence Atlantic Live album with studio overdubs
1976 The Doctor is In... and Out Atlantic
1977 Autophysiopsychic CTI With Art Farmer
1979 In a Temple Garden CTI
1983 Yusef Lateef in Nigeria Landmark
1983 Hikima - Creativity Centre For Nigerian Cultural Studies Live album - limited edition
1987 Yusef Lateef's Little Symphony Atlantic Grammy Award for Best New Age Album
1988 Concerto for Yusef Lateef Atlantic
1989 Nocturnes Atlantic
1990 Meditations Atlantic
1991 Yusef Lateef's Encounters Atlantic
1992 Heart Vision YAL
1992 Tenors of Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp YAL With Archie Shepp
1992 Tenors of Yusef Lateef and Von Freeman YAL With Von Freeman
1992 Yusef Lateef Plays Ballads YAL
1993 Tenors featuring Rene McLean YAL With Rene McLean
1993 Woodwinds YAL With Ralph M. Jones III
1993 The African-American Epic Suite ACT
1993 Metamorphosis YAL
1993 Claiming Open Spaces YAL Soundtrack
1994 Suite Life YAL
1994 Tenors of Yusef Lateef & Ricky Ford YAL With Ricky Ford
1994 Cantata YAL
1995 The World at Peace YAL/Meta Live album with Adam Rudolph
1996 Yusef Lateef's Fantasia for Flute YAL
1996 Full Circle YAL
1997 Sonata Fantasia YAL With Alex J. Marcelo
1997 CHNOPS: Gold & Soul YAL
1997 Earth and Sky YAL With Sayyd A. Al-Khabyyr
1998 9 Bagatelles YAL
1998 Like the Dust YAL
1999 Live in Seattle YAL With Adam Rudolph
1999 A Goodness Inwardness Forgiving Tolerance YAL With Adam Rudolph
2000 Beyond the Sky YAL/Meta With Adam Rudolph
2001 Live at the Luckman Theater YAL With Eternal Wind
2001 Earriptus YAL
2001 So Peace YAL
2002 A Tribute Concert for Yusef Lateef YAL Live album
2002 Homage to Yusef Lateef YAL Live album with Corvini-Iodice Roma Jazz Ensemble
2003 In the Garden YAL With Adam Rudolph and Go: Organic Orchestra
2004 Roots Run Deep RogueArt With Nicolas Humbert and Marc Parisotto - released 2012
2005 Influence B-Flat/Discograph With Stéphane Belmondo and Lionel Belmondo
2008 Voice Prints Meta With Roscoe Mitchell, Adam Rudolph and Douglas R. Ewart - released 2012
2009 Towards the Unknown Meta With Adam Rudolph - released 2010

As sideman

With Cannonball Adderley

With Nat Adderley

With Ernestine Anderson

With Art Blakey

With Donald Byrd

With Paul Chambers

With Art Farmer

With Curtis Fuller

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Grant Green

With Slide Hampton

With Louis Hayes

  • Louis Hayes (Vee-Jay, 1960) also released as Contemplation

With Les McCann

  • Invitation to Openness (1972)

With Don McLean

With Charles Mingus

With Babatunde Olatunji

With Sonny Red

With Leon Redbone

With A. K. Salim

  • Afro-Soul/Drum Orgy (Prestige, 1965)

With Clark Terry

With Doug Watkins

With Randy Weston

With Frank Wess

  • Jazz Is Busting Out All Over (1957)


  1. ^ – Lateef, Yusef Abdul (William Evans)Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  2. ^ Peter Keepnews "Yusef Lateef, Innovative Jazz Saxophonist and Flutist, Dies at 93", New York Times, December 24, 2013
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ronald Atkins, "Yusef Lateef obituary", The Guardian, December 30, 2013.
  5. ^ Bryan Marquard, "Dr. Yusef Lateef, 93; UMass professor embraced world music", The Boston Globe, December 27, 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Yusef Lateef – obituary", The Telegraph, December 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Don Heckman, "Yusef Lateef dies at 93; Grammy winner blended jazz, world music", Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2013.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ A Fireside Chat With Yusef Lateef
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Yusef Lateef, Grammy-winning musician, composer, dies at 93",

External links

  • .com.yuseflateefwww
  • Yusef Lateef at the Internet Movie Database
  • Yusef Lateef at AllMusic
  • DiscographyBillboardBillboard′s complete discography of Yusef Lateef
  • Radio Interview with Yusef Lateef Recorded interview with Dr. Lateef in 2013 as broadcast on WKCR 89.9 FM-NY.
  • Jazz Portraits from the WGBH Archives: Yusef Lateef a radio documentary from WGBH Radio Boston
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