Yusef Lateef is a Grammy Award-winning composer, performer, recording artist, author, educator and philosopher who has been a major force on the international musical scene for more than six decades. He is universally acknowledged as one of the great living masters and innovators in the African American tradition of autophysiopsychic music — that which comes from one’s spiritual, physical and emotional self.
As a virtuoso on a broad spectrum of reed instruments -- tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, argol, sarewa, and taiwan koto — Yusef Lateef has introduced delightful new sounds and blends of tone colors to audiences all over the world.
As a composer, he has compiled a catalogue of works not only for the quartets and quintets he has led, but for symphony and chamber orchestras, stage bands, small ensembles, vocalists, choruses and solo pianists. His extended works have been performed by the WDR (Cologne), NDR (Hamburg), Atlanta, Augusta and Detroit Symphony Orchestras and the Symphony of the New World. He won a Grammy for his recording of "Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony," on which he performed all the parts, in 1987. He has just completed his concerto for piano and orchestra and is now scheduling the premiere performances.
As an educator, he has devoted much of his life to exploring the methodology of autophysiopsychic music in various cultures and passing what he has learned on to new generations of students. He is a Five Colleges professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, from which he was awarded a Ph.D. in Education in 1975. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "An Overview of Western and Islamic Education."
As an author, Yusef Lateef has published a novella, "A Night in the Garden of Love," and two collections of short stories, "Spheres" and "Rain Shapes."
Yusef A. Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston on October 9, 1920 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved with his family to Detroit in 1925. In Detroit’s fertile musical environment, Yusef soon established long-standing friendships with such masters of American music as Milt Jackson, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers, Donald Byrd, the Jones brothers (Hank, Thad and Elvin), Kenny Burrell, Lucky Thompson and Matthew Rucker. He was already proficient on tenor saxophone while in high school, and at the age of 18 began touring professionally with swing bands led by Hartley Toots, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Herbie Fields and eventually Lucky Millender. In 1949 he was invited to perform with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra.