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

December 24th, 2013

Yusef Lateef, a jazz saxophonist and flutist who invested his career crossing musical boundaries, died on Monday at his house in Shutesbury, Mass., close to Amherst. He was 93.

His dying was introduced on his site.

Mr. Lateef started out out as a tenor saxophonist with a large tone and a bluesy type, not considerably much more or less gifted than quite a few other saxophonists in the crowded jazz scene of the nineteen forties. He served a typical jazz apprenticeship, working in the bands of Blessed Millinder, Dizzy Gillespie and other people. But by the time he made his first data as a leader, in 1957, he had begun establishing a reputation as a decidedly unconventional musician.

He began increasing his instrumental palette by doubling on flute, by no signifies a typical jazz instrument in people many years. He later added oboe, bassoon and non-Western wind devices like the shehnai and arghul. “My attempts to experiment with new instruments grew out of the monotony of hearing the exact same old seems performed by the exact same outdated horns,” he after informed DownBeat magazine. “When I appeared into those other cultures, I found that very good devices existed there.”

Those 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 appeared properly over and above the Western Hemisphere. Anticipating the cross-cultural fusions of afterwards many years, he flavored his music with scales, drones and percussion outcomes borrowed from Asia and the Center East. He performed planet audio prior to planet music had a identify.

In later on a long time he incorporated factors of modern live performance songs and composed symphonic and chamber functions. African influences turned more obvious in his audio when he put in four a long time finding out and teaching in Nigeria in the early eighties.

Mr. Lateef professed to find the word “jazz” restricting and degrading he favored “autophysiopsychic songs,” a expression he invented. He additional distanced himself from the jazz mainstream in 1980 when he declared that he would no more time complete any area exactly where alcoholic beverages was served. “Too much blood, sweat and tears have been spilled generating this songs to engage in it exactly where individuals are cigarette smoking, ingesting and conversing,” he defined to The Boston Globe in 1999.

Nonetheless, with its emphasis on melodic improvisation and rhythmic immediacy, his tunes was usually recognizably jazz at its main. And as much afield as his tunes may well roam, his repertoire typically provided at the very least a number of Tin Pan Alley expectations and, specially, plenty 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 carried out and recorded ahead of changing to Islam in the late 1940s (he belonged to the reformist Ahmadiyya Muslim Local community) and changing his identify to Yusef Abdul Lateef. But according to Mr. Lateef’s internet site, he was born William Emanuel Huddleston.

When he was 5 his family members moved to Detroit, exactly where he went on to review saxophone at Miller Large School. Right after spending most of the forties on the road as a sideman with different big bands, he returned to Detroit in 1950 to treatment for his ailing spouse and ended up remaining for a 10 years.

Even though in Detroit he grew to become a popular and revered fixture on the nearby nightclub scene and a mentor to youthful musicians. He also resumed his research, having courses in flute and composition at Wayne State University and afterwards researching oboe as nicely.

In the afterwards part of the ten years he started traveling regularly from Detroit to the East Coastline with his working band to report for the Savoy and Prestige labels. By 1960 he experienced settled in New York, where he labored with Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderley and the Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji before forming his own quartet in 1964.

He was before long a bona fide jazz star, with effective albums on the Impulse and Atlantic labels and a busy touring schedule. But he also remained a pupil, and he sooner or later grew to become a trainer as well.

He obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Manhattan Faculty of Songs, and taught both there and at Borough of Manhattan Local community College in the nineteen seventies. He earned a doctorate in schooling from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1975 (his dissertation: “An Overview of Western and Islamic Education”) and later on taught there and elsewhere in New England.

The far more he researched, the much more formidable Mr. Lateef grew as a composer. He recorded his 7-motion “Symphonic Blues Suite” in 1970 and his “African-American Epic Suite,” a four-portion operate for quintet and orchestra, two a long time later on. His album “Yusef Lateef’s Minor Symphony,” on which he performed all the instruments via overdubbing, received a Grammy Award in 1988, however not in any of the jazz or classical classes it was named greatest New Age efficiency. Mr. Lateef explained at the time that, while he was grateful for the award, he didn’t know what New Age tunes was.

In 2010 he was named a Jazz Grasp by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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

His creative output was not minimal to songs. He painted, wrote poetry and printed numerous textbooks of fiction. He also ran his possess report company, YAL, which he recognized in 1992.

He remained musically energetic right up until a handful of months just before his demise. In April he appeared at Roulette in Brooklyn in a program titled “Yusef Lateef: Celebrating 75 A long time of Tunes,” doing with the percussionist Adam Rudolph and presenting the premieres of two works, one particular for string quartet and the other for piano.

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