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Saxophonist Yusef Lateef dies at age 93

Massachusetts: Grammy-winning musician and composer Yusef Lateef died at the age of 93.

Lateef died Monday at his home in Shutesbury in western Massachusetts, according to the Douglass Funeral Home in Amherst.

Lateef, a tenor saxophonist known for his impressive technique, also became a top flutist. He was a jazz soloist on the oboe and played bassoon. He introduced different types of flutes and other woodwind instruments from many countries into his music and is credited with playing world music before it was officially named.

As a composer, he created works for performers ranging from soloists to bands to choirs. His longer pieces have been played by symphony orchestras throughout the United States and in Germany.

In 1987, he won a Grammy Award for his new age recording ''Yusef Lateef's Little Symphony'', on which he played all of the instruments.

In 2010, he was named an NEA Jazz Master, the nation's highest jazz honour.

Lateef had an international following and toured extensively in the US, Europe, Japan and Africa. His last tour was during the summer.

He held a bachelor's degree in music and a master's degree in music education from the Manhattan School of Music, and from 1987 to 2002, he was a professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, from which he was awarded a doctorate in education.

Born William Emanuel Huddleston in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1920, Lateef moved with his family to Detroit five years later. He became acquainted with many top musicians who were part of Detroit's active music scene and by age 18 he was touring professionally with swing bands led by Lucky Millinder, Roy Eldridge, Hot Lips Page and Ernie Fields.

In 1949, he was invited to perform with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra which was playing be-bop. He took the name Yusef Lateef after becoming a member of the Ahmedi community, and twice made the pilgrimage to Makkah.

Lateef first began recording under his own name in 1956 for Savoy Records, and made more than 100 recordings as a leader for such labels as Prestige, Impulse, Atlantic and his own YAL. His most enduring early recordings included such songs as ''Love Theme from Spartacus'' and ''Morning''.

In the 1980s, he taught at a university in Nigeria, where he did research into the Fulani flute.

He is survived by his wife, Ayesha Lateef; son, Yusef Lateef; granddaughter and great-grandchildren.

 

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