Yusef Lateef

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Yusef Lateef
Yusef Lateef.jpg
Lateef in a 2007 performance
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Emanuel Huddleston
Also known asYusef Lateef
Born(1920-10-09) October 9, 1920 (age 93)
Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
GenresNew Age music, jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion, swing, hard bop, third stream, autophysiopsychic music, world music
OccupationsMusician, composer, educator, spokesman, author
InstrumentsTenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bassoon, bamboo flute, shehnai, shofar, arghul, koto
Years active1957 – present
LabelsSavoy, Prestige, Verve, Riverside, Impulse, Atlantic, CTI, YAL Records
Associated actsCannonball Adderley, Elvin Jones, Adam Rudolph, Dizzy Gillespie, Curtis Fuller, Grant Green, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer
Websitewww.yuseflateef.com
 
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Yusef Lateef
Yusef Lateef.jpg
Lateef in a 2007 performance
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Emanuel Huddleston
Also known asYusef Lateef
Born(1920-10-09) October 9, 1920 (age 93)
Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
GenresNew Age music, jazz, post-bop, jazz fusion, swing, hard bop, third stream, autophysiopsychic music, world music
OccupationsMusician, composer, educator, spokesman, author
InstrumentsTenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bassoon, bamboo flute, shehnai, shofar, arghul, koto
Years active1957 – present
LabelsSavoy, Prestige, Verve, Riverside, Impulse, Atlantic, CTI, YAL Records
Associated actsCannonball Adderley, Elvin Jones, Adam Rudolph, Dizzy Gillespie, Curtis Fuller, Grant Green, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer
Websitewww.yuseflateef.com

Yusef Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston, October 9, 1920) is an American Grammy Award-winning jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator and a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community after his conversion to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam in 1950.

Although Lateef's main instruments are the tenor saxophone and flute, he also plays oboe and bassoon, both rare in jazz, and also uses a number of world music instruments, notably the bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, Xun, arghul, sarewa, and koto. He is known for his innovative blending of jazz with "Eastern" music.

Biography[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

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". The saxophonist used the stage name Bill Evans professionally until 1950, when he legally changed it to Yusef Abdul Lateef.[1]

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.

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.[2]

Prominence[edit]

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 and 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. Along with trumpeter Don Cherry, Lateef can lay claim to being among the first exponents of the world music as subgenres of jazz. Lateef also made numerous contributions to other people's albums including his time as a member of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's Quintet during 1962–64.

Lateef performing in Hamburg, 1971

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. They enjoyed a residency at Pep's Lounge during June 1964; an evening of which was issued across several albums.

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 has expressed a dislike of the terms "jazz" and "jazz musician" as musical generalizations. 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. His 1987 album Yusef Lateef's Little Symphony won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.[3][4] His core influences, however, are clearly rooted in jazz, and in his own words: "My music is jazz."[5]

In 1992, Lateef founded YAL Records, his own label for which he records today. 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.

Education and teaching[edit]

Lateef performing in 2007 at the Detroit Jazz Festival

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 teaching positions at the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College. Presently, he continues to teach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Hampshire College in western Massachusetts.

Lateef has written 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.[6]

Along with his record label YAL Records, Lateef owns Fana Music, a music publishing company. Lateef publishes his own work through Fana, which includes Yusef Lateef's Flute Book of the Blues and many of his own orchestral compositions.

Autophysiopsychic Music, Lateef's term, refers to music which comes from one's physical, mental, and spiritual self. Lateef has written extensively on the topic and includes it in his book Method To Perform Autophysiopsychic Music. In this view, it should be the goal of every musician to combine their theoretical knowledge with their life experience, and to offer to and accept knowledge from their personal source of strength, inspiration and knowledge.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2010 he received lifetime the Jazz Master Fellowship Award from NEA, National Endowment for the Arts which is an independent federal agency.[7][4]

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters is the highest honor given in Jazz established in 1982.[8]

WGBH Jazz, a popular public radio from Boston, Massachusetts, aired a special-documentary program for Lateef, titled A portrait of saxophonist Yusef Lateef in his own words and music.[9]

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Cannonball Adderley

With Donald Byrd

With Art Farmer

With Curtis Fuller

With Grant Green

With Sonny Red

With Leon Redbone

With Doug Watkins

With Randy Weston

References[edit]

  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians – Lateef, Yusef Abdul (William Evans). Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  2. ^ "About Yusef Lateef". Yuseflateef.com. FANA Music/YAL Records. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ Lateef Wins Grammy Award For Best New Age Album in 1987. books.google.com.br. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  4. ^ a b "About Yusef Lateef". Official website. 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  5. ^ A Fireside Chat With Yusef Lateef
  6. ^ "Yusef Lateef Comes to Grace Cathedral". Beyondchron.org. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  7. ^ "Lateef Being Honored With Jazz Master Fellowship Award in 2010". Arts.endow.gov. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  8. ^ "Jazz Master Fellowship Award Winners Through 1982–2011". Arts.endow.gov. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  9. ^ "A portrait of saxophonist Yusef Lateef in his Own Words And Music". wgbh.org. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 

External links[edit]