In the first days of 2014 we will remember the great artists who passed away in 2013. The best tribute we can pay THEM is to keep on listening and enjoying their artistic work, recognize its value and thank them for having given us so much.
Born William Evans, Oct. 9, 1920 – Dec. 23, 2013
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Oboe, Argol, Other Intruments
Yusef Lateef, a jazz saxophonist and flutist who spent his career crossing musical boundaries, died at his home in Shutesbury, Mass., near Amherst. He was 93.
Mr. Lateef started out as a tenor saxophonist with a big tone and a bluesy style, not significantly more or less talented than numerous other saxophonists in the crowded jazz scene of the 1940s. He served a conventional jazz apprenticeship, working in the bands of Lucky Millinder, Dizzy Gillespie and others. But by the time he made his first records as a leader, in 1957, he had begun establishing a reputation as a decidedly unconventional musician.
He began expanding his instrumental palette by doubling on flute, by no means a common jazz instrument in those years. He later added oboe, bassoon and non-Western wind instruments like the shehnai and arghul. “My attempts to experiment with new instruments grew out of the monotony of hearing the same old sounds played by the same old horns,” he once told DownBeat magazine. “When I looked into those other cultures, I found that good instruments existed there.”
Those experiments led to an embrace of new influences. At a time when jazz musicians in the United States rarely sought inspiration any farther geographically than Latin America, Mr. Lateef looked well beyond the Western Hemisphere. Anticipating the cross-cultural fusions of later decades, he flavored his music with scales, drones and percussion effects borrowed from Asia and the Middle East. He played world music before world music had a name.
In 2010 he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
by Peter Keepnews, published Dec. 24, 2013, The New York Times (excerpts). Read more here.
Yusef Lateef said (1990): “I dislike the word “jazz” and stopped using it many years ago. I think it debases a great art form. When you look at the associations of that word – blather, rubbish – you will understand what I mean. So I reject it.“
Recorded: Sep. 1961from “The Penguin Jazz Guide – The History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums”, Brian Morton & Richard Cook, 2010
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