Yusef Lateef, Modern Jazz Saxophonist and Flutist, Dies at 93

December 24th, 2013

Yusef Lateef, a jazz saxophonist and flutist who spent his occupation crossing musical boundaries, died on Monday at his house in Shutesbury, Mass., near Amherst. He was 93.

His loss of life was declared on his site.

Mr. Lateef started out as a tenor saxophonist with a huge tone and a bluesy fashion, not drastically much more or less talented than numerous other saxophonists in the crowded jazz scene of the forties. He served a standard jazz apprenticeship, functioning in the bands of Blessed Millinder, Dizzy Gillespie and other folks. But by the time he made his very first records as a chief, in 1957, he experienced started developing a track record as a decidedly unconventional musician.

He began increasing his instrumental palette by doubling on flute, by no signifies a widespread jazz instrument in people several years. He later on included oboe, bassoon and non-Western wind instruments like the shehnai and arghul. “My makes an attempt to experiment with new devices grew out of the monotony of hearing the same old appears performed by the exact same outdated horns,” he as soon as advised DownBeat journal. “When I seemed into people other cultures, I located that excellent devices existed there.”

These experiments led to an embrace of new influences. At a time when jazz musicians in the United States hardly ever sought inspiration any farther geographically than Latin The usa, Mr. Lateef seemed effectively over and above the Western Hemisphere. Anticipating the cross-cultural fusions of later decades, he flavored his tunes with scales, drones and percussion consequences borrowed from Asia and the Center East. He performed world music prior to globe audio experienced a title.

In afterwards years he incorporated elements of contemporary concert audio and composed symphonic and chamber operates. African influences turned far more visible in his tunes when he invested 4 a long time researching and teaching in Nigeria in the early eighties.

Mr. Lateef professed to locate the term “jazz” restricting and degrading he desired “autophysiopsychic tunes,” a phrase he invented. He more distanced himself from the jazz mainstream in 1980 when he declared that he would no for a longer time perform any place where alcohol was served. “Too significantly blood, sweat and tears have been spilled generating this songs to enjoy it the place men and women are cigarette smoking, drinking and chatting,” he defined to The Boston Globe in 1999.

Nonetheless, with its emphasis on melodic improvisation and rhythmic immediacy, his songs was usually recognizably jazz at its core. And as far afield as his music might roam, his repertoire normally provided at least a number of Tin Pan Alley standards and, specifically, loads of blues.

He was born on Oct. 9, 1920, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Many sources give his delivery identify as William Evans, the name under which he executed and recorded prior to changing to Islam in the late nineteen forties (he belonged to the reformist Ahmadiyya Muslim Group) and altering his title to Yusef Abdul Lateef. But in accordance to Mr. Lateef’s web site, he was born William Emanuel Huddleston.

When he was 5 his household moved to Detroit, in which he went on to review saxophone at Miller High University. Following shelling out most of the 1940s on the highway as a sideman with a variety of massive bands, he returned to Detroit in 1950 to care for his ailing spouse and ended up being for a ten years.

Whilst in Detroit he became a well-known and revered fixture on the local nightclub scene and a mentor to younger musicians. He also resumed his research, getting classes in flute and composition at Wayne State College and afterwards studying oboe as effectively.

In the afterwards element of the decade he commenced touring regularly from Detroit to the East Coast with his working band to file for the Savoy and Status labels. By 1960 he had settled in New York, exactly where he worked with Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderley and the Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji before forming his personal quartet in 1964.

He was soon a bona fide jazz star, with effective albums on the Impulse and Atlantic labels and a active touring routine. But he also remained a student, and he at some point became a teacher as properly.

He obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Songs, and taught equally there and at Borough of Manhattan Community School in the nineteen seventies. He acquired a doctorate in training from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1975 (his dissertation: “An Overview of Western and Islamic Education”) and later on taught there and somewhere else in New England.

The more he analyzed, the much more formidable Mr. Lateef grew as a composer. He recorded his seven-movement “Symphonic Blues Suite” in 1970 and his “African-American Epic Suite,” a four-element operate for quintet and orchestra, two decades later. His album “Yusef Lateef’s Minor Symphony,” on which he performed all the instruments by way of overdubbing, won a Grammy Award in 1988, however not in any of the jazz or classical categories it was named greatest New Age functionality. Mr. Lateef mentioned at the time that, although he was grateful for the award, he did not know what New Age audio was.

In 2010 he was named a Jazz Learn by the Countrywide Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Lateef is survived by his spouse, Ayesha a son, Yusef a granddaughter and numerous great-grandchildren.

His imaginative output was not restricted to tunes. He painted, wrote poetry and published a number of guides of fiction. He also ran his very own report business, YAL, which he established in 1992.

He remained musically active till a couple of months prior to his loss of life. In April he appeared at Roulette in Brooklyn in a software titled “Yusef Lateef: Celebrating 75 A long time of Music,” carrying out with the percussionist Adam Rudolph and presenting the premieres of two works, 1 for string quartet and the other for piano.

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