Jazz musician Yusef Lateef dies aged 93

The artist bought world music to prominence with his fusion style

Jazz musician Yusef Lateef has died at the age of 93.

The artist, who fused world music with more traditional jazz styles, passed away on December 23 according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. BBC News reports that the musician had battled prostate cancer and died at home in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. His funeral will be held tomorrow (December 26) in Amherst, Massachusetts. Click above to listen to his version of the ‘Love Theme From Spartacus’, which features on his seminal 1961 album, ‘Eastern Sounds’.

Lateef was born in 1920 in Chattanooga, Tennessee under the name William Emanuel Huddleston and went on to play jazz in Detroit as a teenager. A tenor saxophonist and composer, in addition he played flute, oboe and bassoon. He performed with jazz icons Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus and was an influence on John Coltrane. In 1987 his album ‘Little Symphony’ won the Grammy for best new age performance.

A statement released by Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy, paid tribute to Lateef. It said: “Never one to be confined by genre or boundaries, he introduced woodwind instruments from other countries into his music, and he is often credited with playing world music before it became so named. His experience as a music educator later in life infused his more recent work, and he continued to compose and perform up until this past summer. Our music community, jazz in particular, has lost one of its giants, and his remarkable legacy will continue to inspire and teach future generations.”