Monday, September 17, 2012


Saxophonist Yuesf Lateef
Saxophonist Yusef Lateef is no stranger to accolades for his career achievements and for the massive body of recordings he is produced. Into Something, Prayer to the East, The Sound of Yusef, and Live at Pep’s is a wee sampling of Lateef’s popular recordings. To his credit, he has a Grammy, and in 2010 the National Endowment for the Arts named him an American Jazz Master, the highest national recognition a jazz musician can receive. 

Those hip to Lateef's contribution to jazz and to world music know the accolades are well-deserved. Every aspect of Lateef's hall of fame career is detailed in his 2006 autobiography The Gentle Giant, a fitting title. A giant of jazz and world music Lateef  undoubtedly is.  

In the 1950’s, Lateef started building his brand from the ground up at happening jazz hunts around Detroit such as Kline’s Show Bar and the Blue Bird Inn before moving to New York where he sharpened his musicianship playing with greats such as Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Julian “Cannonball” Adderly

After 60 plus years of composing, recording, touring, and teaching, Lateef is finally enjoying semi-retirement.Twice a year he tours overseas. These days, he spends a lot of time composing. Recently, he completed his second full-length symphony. 

On September 22nd, Lateef will return to Detroit, his hometown. The Societie for the Culturally Concerned--an arts organization run by Barbara Cox the widow of the late jazz pianist Kenn Cox--will honor Lateef. Cox promises it will be something special. The tribute will take place at the St. Matthew’s & St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. 

Percussionist Ralph Miles Jones’ group The Seekers of Truth Revolutionary Ensemble will perform some of Lateef’s compositions. Biographer Herb Boyd, the co-author of Lateef's autobiography will be the guest speaker. I Dig Jazz contacted Lateef last week, and ask for his thoughts about the tribute, Lateef's said he is grateful to be honored in his hometown where his career began, and he still loves Detroit.

The Yusef Lateef tribute will take place at 5:00pm Saturday September 22nd at St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church 8850 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48202. The cover charge is $25.00 and $40.00 for the tribute and the dinner.
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