Yusef Lateef, The Gentle Giant

Science dropped by Martini & Jopparelli. Nov-30-2007

Festival time!

I was lucky enough to see Yusef Lateef performing live in my city. What a fantastic concert. I heard some beautiful sounds that i will never forget.


A few lines of biography from his site describe well the greatness of this artist:

Yusef Lateef is a Grammy Award-winning composer, performer, recording artist, author, educator and philosopher who has been a major force on the international musical scene for more than six decades. He is universally acknowledged as one of the great living masters and innovators in the African American tradition of autophysiopsychic music — that which comes from one’s spiritual, physical and emotional self.

As a virtuoso on a broad spectrum of reed instruments — tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, argol, sarewa, and taiwan koto — Yusef Lateef has introduced delightful new sounds and blends of tone colors to audiences all over the world.


This living legend is now 87 years old, he started playing jazz in the late 30′s. It is even difficult to imagine how long he has been around, crossing different musical styles and being a reference figure in the jazz scene from the beginning. Ages and experience bring wisdom, and after studying all types of music, I think he reached the perfect synthesis, a style that is apparently minimal, but is indeed really really deep.

It is hard to describe in words the feelings you experiment in such a great concert, plus I’m not an expert of Jazz music so I won’t go into technical details, but let me say one thing: Yuseef Lateef’s music is different from the others in having a huge spiritual component. Also, the influences of African and Mid-Oriental music are evident, but I think his aim is to create a unified, universal musical language rather than simply giving a touch of “exotic” to his performance, as other artist do.


That night he played flute, sax, oboe and different types of african instruments. The Belmondo sextet, his european support band, was the perfect match. Stephan Belmondo in particular, and the bass player, of which I can’t remember the name, gave the audience some moments of pure delight. I still can remember clearly a bass solo that was pure fire. Amazing.

Note: Being a big 90′s hip hop fan (probably the only one in the audience!), it was easy to notice that his sounds were clearly a big inspiration for the producers I love most. Besides being a jazz legend, he even sounds more “hip hop” than your average hip hop producer! I’m sure that if you look in the private collection of RZA or Pete Rock, you’ll find more than one vinyl by Yuseef Lateef.


To remember that night, I give you this dope album by YL. Isn’t this the dopest thing you’ve heard from a long time?

Listen! Yusef Lateef’s The Doctor Is In … And Out (1976)

Watch The Master play oboe with Cannonball Adderley in 1963:


…chicca finale per i lettori italiani: beccatevi questa interessantissima intervista col maestro!

No Responses to “Yusef Lateef, The Gentle Giant”

  1. Brother John says:

    This is my tune !
    And me too, I love Yusef Lateef, the true blower !

  2. [...] AKA Marty McFly under Dancefloor Bangers   Is there a place on the net where you can find a post about Yusef Lateef and few days later one about Plastician? Nah, I don’t think so! It’s happen only here and we [...]

  3. johnny says:

    post, video con Cannonball Adderley e intervista fantastici.
    carte, ori e settebello.
    poi mi ascolto il disco e vi dico se avete fatto pure primiera.

  4. Marty AKA Marty McFly says:

    Carte servite, in questo post dove peschi, peschi bene!

    Grazie della visita!

  5. sMITTYROCK says:

    I bought the album in the early 70`s and was blown away with the cut “Below Yellow Bell”. Thanks …

  6. [...] from the roots of human music. Its sound is pure, warm and magic…We already talked about a true master playin flute, let’s see some [...]

  7. sister says:

    hello. Yusef lateef is an ahmadii muslim. He used to go to my mosque. I personally know his wife. =]

  8. Just now learning about Yusef through my musical class. Love the sound. i have always loved jazz now I am really suprised at the wide range of Jazz.

  9. [...] Adderley with Joe Zawinul & Yusef Lateef: Jive Samba, what a [...]

  10. [...] produced by Cerrone, the Temptations’ “Law Of The Land” gone reggae, the Gentle Giant playing Spartacus with his magic flute, a moanin’ beat-Tony D style, the best track outta new [...]