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Adam Rudolph Remembers Yusef Lateef

10.9.20 – 12.23.13

Yusef Lateef
Yusef Lateef

Anyone reading this knows about the unique beauty of Yusef Lateef’s sound. We recognize him upon hearing the first note. I have seen Yusef play the entire history of the tenor saxophone in one solo. I have witnessed both audience and performers moved to tears by his flute playing. Always the story was deep, more than nine decades of life experience coming through clear and beautiful.

I met Brother Yusef Lateef in New York in 1988 when I performed hand percussion with him for the first time. When he asked me to also bring my compositions for us to perform, he approached them with real interest and respect. In the ensuing 25 years, we performed and collaborated worldwide in many contexts. Yusef always encouraged me to develop myself as a composer and a bandleader. He became a true and dear friend. I also consider him to be my most important teacher, not only in music itself but also in how to live as an artist and a human being. Yusef often said, “With each project I try to do something I have never done before,” which suggests three qualities that I value deeply and which Yusef himself embodied in his life and work: creative imagination, studiousness and courage.

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