Jazz Great Yusef Lateef 1920-2013 R.I.P.


Sax/flute legend charted the interwebs of the sacred and the profane.

 By Blurt Staff

Saxman Yusef Lateef is dead at the age of 93, the Los Angeles Times reports. He passed away yesterday, Dec. 23, at his home in Shutesbury, Mass. The exact cause of death has not been announced yet. Notes the Times, “Lateef initially was best known as a dynamic tenor saxophonist with a big tone and a strong sense of swing. But his persistent creative and intellectual curiosity led him to the discovery of an array of other instruments as well as a fascination with various international forms of music.

“He was an early advocate for the flute as a credible jazz voice. And his performances on the oboe as early as the ’50s and ’60s were definitive – and rarely matched – displays of the instrument’s jazz capabilities. He searched the globe for more exotic instruments, while mastering, among others, the bamboo flute, the Indian shenai, the Arabic arghul, the Hebrew shofar and the West African Fulani flute.

“Tall and shaven-headed, his powerful presence offset by a calm demeanor and the quiet, articulate speaking style of a scholar, Lateef combined thoughtfulness and a probing intellectual curiosity with impressive musical skills. Early in his career, he established his role as a pathfinder in blending elements from a multiplicity of different sources.”

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