Jazz musician Yusef Lateef has died at the age of 93.
Lateef passed away on December 23 after a reported battle with prostate cancer. He died at home in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. His funeral was held last Thursday December 26 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston in 1920 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and played jazz in Detroit as a teenager. As well as playing tenor saxophone and being an accomplished composer, Lateef also played flute, oboe and bassoon. He was to perform with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus and was claimed to be an influence on John Coltrane. Lateef’s 1987 album Little Symphony won the Grammy for best new age performance.He was renowned for his fusion of world music and jazz.
Lateef was to incorporate elements of what was to become known as ‘world music’ into his jazz and spent four years studying and teaching in Nigeria in the early ”80s.
Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy, paid tribute to Lateef in a statement that said: “Never one to be confined by genre or boundaries, he introduced woodwind instruments from other countries into his music, and he is often credited with playing world music before it became so named. His experience as a music educator later in life infused his more recent work, and he continued to compose and perform up until this past summer. Our music community, jazz in particular, has lost one of its giants, and his remarkable legacy will continue to inspire and teach future generations.”