Lateef has written and published a number of books including a novella entitled A Night in the Garden of Love and the short story collections Spheres and Rain Shapes. 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.
In 1950, he studied flute and composition at Wayne State University in Detroit. Converting to Islam in the Ahmadiyya movement, he took the name Yusef Lateef, which translates roughly into "Gentle Joseph." Over the next two decades, he alternated between leading his own jazz groups, working with such artists as percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist/composer Charles Mingus, pianist Kenny Barron, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and guitarist Grant Green, while continuing his education.
Grammy-winning jazz multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef died at his Shutesbury, Massachusetts, home on Monday following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 93.
Born William Emanuel Huddleston on October 9, 1920, in Chattanooga, Tenn., Lateef converted to Islam in 1950 and is best known for using Eastern influences in his music.
Focusing on tenor saxophone and flute, the late star also played a number of instruments, including several unconventional to jazz music, like the oboe and bassoon. According to , he also played several world music instruments like the bamboo flute and the koto.
Lateef has played with such legends as and , and is said to have had a major influence on .
The artist didn't win his Grammy until 1987, when his album "Little Symphony" earned him the award for Best New Age Performance.
Lateef is survived by wife Ayesha and a son, Yusef.
Renaissance man Dr. Yusef Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston in Chattanooga, Tennessee on October 9th, 1920. At the age of 5 he moved with his family to Detroit. Growing up in Detroit he came in contact and forged friendships with many a giant of jazz such as Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers, and Donald Byrd. By the time he graduated from high school he was a proficient tenor saxophonist. He started soon after graduation playing professionally and touring with different swing orchestras among them those of Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge and Lucky Millender. In 1949 he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s orchestra (using the stage name William Evans), and stayed with them for one year. In 1950 he returned to Detroit and to enrolled in the Wayne State University’s Music Department and studying composition and flute. During his tenure at Wayne State he converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusef Lateef. He stayed in Detroit until 1960 and during this decade he led his own quintet for a while, recorded his first album as a leader for the Savoy label, Stable Mates, and furthered his musical education by studying oboe with Ronald Odemark of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.