Yusef Abdul Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston; October 9, 1920 – December 23, 2013) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer, and prominent figure among the Ahmadiyya Community in America.
Although Lateef’s main instruments were the tenor saxophone and flute, he also played oboe and bassoon, both rare in jazz, and non-western instruments such as the bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, xun, arghul and koto. He is known for having been an innovator in the blending of jazz with “Eastern” music. Peter Keepnews, in his New York Times obituary of Lateef, wrote that the musician “played world music before world music had a name”.
Lateef’s books included two novellas entitled A Night in the Garden of Love and Another Avenue, the short story collections Spheres and Rain Shapes, also his autobiography, The Gentle Giant, written in collaboration with Herb Boyd. Along with his record label YAL Records, Lateef owned Fana Music, a music publishing company. Lateef published his own work through Fana, which includes Yusef Lateef’s Flute Book of the Blues and many of his own orchestral compositions.
Lateef was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee as William Emanuel Huddleston. His family moved, in 1923, to Lorain, Ohio, and again in 1925, to Detroit, Michigan, where his father changed the family’s name to Evans.