Grammy-winning musician and composer Yusef Lateef, one of the first to incorporate world music into traditional jazz, has died Monday at his home in Shutesbury in western Massachusetts. He was 93.
I was introduced to him from a great friend Richard Abbott who played me Yuseef Blue and from that excellent album came the Blowout saxophone blues classic ‘Othelia’ with the excellent duel between the tenor sax and the mississippi sax the harmonica.The other standout track was Like It Is,’ a smoky piece when the sax comes in after 1.50 it has real impact!
Lateef, a tenor saxophonist known for his impressive technique, also became a top flutist. He was a jazz soloist on the oboe and played bassoon. He introduced different types of flutes and other woodwind instruments from many countries into his music and is credited with playing world music before it was officially named.
“I believe that all humans have knowledge,” he said in a 2009 interview for the National Endowment for the Arts. “Each culture has some knowledge. That’s why I studied with Saj Dev, an Indian flute player. That’s why I studied Stockhausen’s music. The pygmies’ music of the rain forest is very rich music. So the knowledge is out there. And I also believe one should seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. With that kind of inquisitiveness, one discovers things that were unknown before.”
As a composer, he created works for performers ranging from soloists to bands to choirs. His longer pieces have been played by symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and in Germany. In 1987, he won a Grammy for his new age recording “Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony,” on which he played all of the instruments.
In 2010, he was named an NEA Jazz Master, the nation’s highest jazz honor.
Lateef had an international following and toured extensively in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Africa. He most recently toured last summer.
He held a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in music education from the Manhattan School of Music, and from 1987 to 2002, he was a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, from which he was awarded a doctorate in education.
He created his own music theory called Autophysiopsychic Music, which he described in the NEA interview as “music from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self, and also from the heart.”
Born William Emanuel Huddleston in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1920, Lateef moved with his family to Detroit five years later. He became acquainted with many top musicians who were part of Detroit’s active music scene, and by age 18, he was touring professionally with swing bands led by Lucky Millinder, Roy Eldridge, Hot Lips Page and Ernie Fields.
In 1949, he was invited to perform with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, which was playing bebop. He took the name Yusef Lateef after becoming a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and twice made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
He became a fixture on the Detroit jazz scene in the 1950s leading his own quintet. In 1960, he moved to New York and joined Charles Mingus’ band. Lateef went on to perform with some of jazz’s best talent, including Cannonball Adderley, Donald Byrd and Miles Davis.
Lateef first began recording under his own name in 1956 for Savoy Records and made more than 100 recordings as a leader for such labels as Prestige, Impulse, Atlantic and his own YAL. His most enduring early recordings included such songs as “Love Theme from Spartacus” and “Morning.”
In the 1980s, he taught at a university in Nigeria, where he did research into the Fulani flute.
Lateef formed his own label, YAL Records, in 1992, which released an extended suite, “The World at Peace,” co-composed with percussionist Adam Rudolph. He also wrote a four-movement work for quintet and orchestra, “The African American Epic Suite,” which was commissioned and performed by the WDR Orchestra in Germany in 1993.
He is survived by his wife, Ayesha Lateef; son Yusef Lateef; a granddaughter; and great-grandchildren.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to play tonight.I bloody loved it.Everyone was totally fabulous!Well done you for putting on such a great gig! Liza
It was a great night Mark.All my family and friends loved it and were very surprised.You are a legend Mr A. Mart
Thank you for giving me the skills that allowed me to be a very small part of last night. Great music, great atmosphere and the best feeling in the world playing on the stage. Pass on my thanks to a great backing band. I for one appreciated them being there.
What a great overall standard of music and background film overlayed with players was excellent.
Last night was inspirational and was summed up by the lady in our group whe was very nervous beforehand and had considered not turning up. After our spot she said i’ll play Baker Street next year!
Here are some inspired shots of the night taken by the great Jon Hoffmann check out his incredible pedigree at http://someoldnegs.blogspot.co.uk..
here’s Peter Gunn with a Pigbag with the special guest Oli Moore.
Sax Gigs from 1 December 2013
Bad Manners 15 December, The Fleece, Bristol http://www.bristolticketshop.co.uk/eventdetails.aspx?e=3314
Bartoune 6 December, Fringe Bar, Clifton, Bristol
6 February, Old Duke, King Street, Bristol
21 March, Pound Arts, The Pound, Corsham http://www.bartoune.co.uk/gigdiary.htm
The Beat 6 December, Cheese & Grain, Frome http://www.cheeseandgrain.co.uk/2013/04/the-beats-christmas-party/
8 December, Subscription Rooms, Stroud http://www.ents24.com/stroud-events/subscription-rooms/the-beat/3530311
7 March, The Fleece, Thomas Street, Bristol http://www.bristolticketshop.co.uk/eventdetails.aspx?e=4499
Be-Bop Club The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol http://www.thebebopclub.co.uk/index_files/WhatsOn.htm
6 Dec : Tom Green Septet 13 Dec: Greg Cordez Quintet 20 Dec: Nick Dover & Julien Alenda
Brass Junkies 2 December, The Bell, Walcott St., Bath http://www.thebellinnbath.co.uk/index.php/live-music
Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 7-9 March http://www.bristoljazzandbluesfest.com/
7th: Andy Sheppard; the Bruce Ilett Swing Band 8th: Pee Wee Ellis: Alan Barnes
9th: Get the Blessing; Andy Sheppard; Adrian Cox Quintet
Craig Crofton 12 December, St James Wine Vaults, Bath http://www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk/whatson.php?MUSIC=JAZZ
Dakhla 17 December, The Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol http://www.dakhlabrass.com/gigs/
Snake Davis 20 March, Chapel Arts Centre, Bath http://www.snakedavis.com/tourdates.asp
The Dualers 3 May, Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol http://www.ents24.com/bristol-events/the-tunnels/the-dualers/3529390
Fatman Swings 21 December, The Bell, Walcott St., Bath http://www.thebellinnbath.co.uk/index.php/live-music
Pete Gage Band 20 December, Cellar Bar, Bear Hotel, Devizes http://www.petegagemusic.com/#!gigs/c1c5j
(Sax:Ray Colomb) 22 December, The Cornerhouse, Frome
Alex Garnett/Dave O’Higgins 31 January, Meeting Place, Ilminster http://www.themeetinghouse.org.uk/music/936
Andy Hague Quintet 8 December, Hen & Chickens, Southville, Bristol http://www.jazzata.com/Gig34.html
Scott Hamilton 13 January, Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham http://www.cheltenhamjazz.co.uk/
Joe Lovano 7 April, Barbican, London http://www.joelovano.com/gigs/
Monkey Chuckle 4 December, The Bell, Walcott St., Bath http://monkeychuckle.co.uk/music/
21 December, Golden Lion, Gloucester Rd., Bristol
James Morton 19 December, Fringe Bar, Clifton, Bristol http://www.fringejazz.com/gig-list/year.listevents/2013/12/02/-.html
Polar Bear 22 March, Thekla, Mud Dock, Bristol http://www.ents24.com/bristol-events/thekla/polar-bear/3649715
Joshua Redman 24 April, Wigmore Hall, London http://www.joshuaredman.com/tour
The Regz 21 December, Thunderbolt, Bath Road, Bristolhttp://www.thethunderbolt.net/whatson.ihtml
The Selecter 6 March, Komedia, Bath http://www.komedia.co.uk/bath/music/
Andy Sheppard 26 December, Fringe Bar, Clifton, Bristol http://www.fringejazz.com/gig-list/year.listevents/2013/11/18/-.html
Arabella Sprot 5 December, Fringe Bar, Clifton, Bristol http://www.fringejazz.com/gig-list/year.listevents/2013/11/18/-.html
Bobby Wellins 14 February, The Meeting Place, Ilminster http://www.themeetinghouse.org.uk/music/937
Zen Hussies 11 December, Old Duke, King Street, Bristol http://www.zenhussies.com/gigs.htm
21 December, Southbank, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol