William Emanuel Huddleston (1920-1950)

He was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee before his family moved to Detroit, Michigan five years later. It would be in Detroit that he would become immersed in the musical scene, befriending future musicians such as Milt Jackson, Tommy Flanagan, Donald Byrd, and Lucky Thompson.

He spent his high school years developing proficiency in the tenor saxophone. By the time he reached 18, he started touring professionally with swing bands. He then returned to Detroit to study composition and flute at Wayne State University under Larry Teal.

Yusuf Lateef (1950-2013)

Around this time, he started taking an interest in Ahmadiyya Islam. He converted and changed his name to Yusuf Lateef; Yusuf being the Arabic variant of Joseph, and Lateef coming from the Arabic name meaning “gentle.” He would become respected by jazz fans of many creeds.

Lateef would then lead a quintet for a couple of years before returning to New York in 1960. He would earn a Bachelor’s in Music and a Master’s in Music Education. He would then teach music as an associate professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Then, Lateef would teach at the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria as a senior research Fellow at the Center of Nigerian Cultural Studies from 1981-1985.

In 1992, Lateef created his own label, YAL Records. A year later, he would produce his most ambitious magnum opus called The African-American Epic Suite, which was a four-part work representing the 400 years of African-American slavery and disenfranchisement.

Lateef passed away in 2013 at the age of 93.

From 1956 onwards, Lateef produced more than 100 recordings under multiple labels, and with an ensemble consisting of many collaborations.

Sources (Fontoi)

  • About Yusuf Lateef.” Yusuf Lateef.
  • Beetz, Tom. “Yusef Lateef.” Flickr. July 7, 2007. CC BY-SA 2.0. Change includes resizing and cropping image between two images.
  • Latif. Behindthename.
  • Yusuf. Behindthename.

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