Tag Archives: Islam

Yusef Lateef R.I.P.

Yusef Lateef,  Grammy Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator who brought the sounds of world music to jazz and became one of the first jazz musicians to convert to the teachings of Islam,  died. He was 93.

 

Lateef initially was best known as a dynamic tenor saxophonist with a big tone and a strong sense of swing, but his persistent creative and intellectual curiosity led him to the discovery of an array of other instruments as well as a fascination with various international forms of music.

He was an early advocate for the flute as a credible jazz voice, and  his performances on the oboe as early as the ’50s and ’60s were definitive – and rarely matched – displays of the instrument’s jazz capabilities.

He searched the globe for more exotic instruments, while mastering, among others, the bamboo flute, the Indian shenai, the Arabic arghul, the Hebrew shofar and the West African Fulani flute.

 

Tall and shaven-headed, his powerful presence offset by a calm demeanor and the quiet, articulate speaking style of a scholar, Lateef combined thoughtfulness and a probing intellectual curiosity with impressive musical skills. Early in his career, he established his role as a pathfinder in blending elements from a multiplicity of different sources.

 

His first recordings under his own leadership, released on the Savoy label in the mid-’50s, already revealed a fascination with unusual instruments: In addition to tenor saxophone and the flute, he also plays the arghul. Several of Lateef’s original compositions on those early albums also integrated rhythms and melodic styles from numerous global musical forms.

 

“In any given composition,” wrote Leonard Feather in The Times in 1975, “there may be long passages that involve classical influences, impressionism, a Middle Eastern flavor, or rhythmic references to Latin America.”

 

Like a number of musicians – from Duke Ellington to his contemporaries, Max Roach and Sonny Rollins – Lateef objected to the use of the word “jazz” to describe his work. He preferred, instead, the phrase, “autophysiopsychic music,” which he defined as “music which comes from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self.”

 

He also acknowledged the importance of the blues, in his music and elsewhere.

 

“The blues,” he said in an NPR interview in 2003, “is a very elegant musical form which has given birth to wonderful compositions. I recognize the blues. In fact, if the African had not been brought to America as a slave, the blues would never have been born.”

 

Lateef’s desire to pursue his own musical path — as a performer, a composer and an educator — led, in 1981, to his refusal to perform in nightclubs. For the next four years, he lived in Nigeria as a senior research fellow at Ahmadu Bello University. Returning to the U.S., he taught at the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College.

 

In the succeeding decades, Lateef performed in concert halls, colleges and music festivals in Japan, Russia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the U.S. He often led seminars and master classes outlining his belief in the presence of autophysiopsychic music principals in cultures around the world.

 

“To me,” he told the LA Times in 1989,” it feels as though there’s a kind of aesthetic thread running through the improvisational musics of the world. If you’re alive and your heart is beating, you’ll find it, and that’s what makes the relationship between you and the world.”

 

Yusef Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston on April 9, 1920, in Chattanooga, Tenn. When he was 3, he moved to Lorraine, Ohio, with his parents. In 1925 they relocated to Detroit. Music was a constant presence in his early family life.

 

He is survived by his wife, Ayesha Lateef; his son, Yusef Lateef; a granddaughter and great-grandchildren.

Source – LA Time, 24 Dec 2013

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Almanac – April 21

753 BC – Romulus and Remus founded Rome, according to legend.

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571 – Prophet Muhammad  born in Makkah.

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1918 –  German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron”, was shot down and killed over Vaux-sur-Somme in France.

He was considered the top ace of  WWI, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories.

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1934 – The “Surgeon’s Photograph”, the most famous photo allegedly showing the Loch Ness Monster, was published in the Daily Mail, supposedly taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynaecologist.

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1970 – The Hutt River Province Principality seceded from Australia.

The oldest micronation in Australia, the principality claims to be an independent sovereign state having achieved legal status on 21 April 1972, although it remains unrecognised except by other micronations.

The principality is located 517 km (354 mi) north of Perth, near the town of Northampton. If considered independent, it is an enclave of Australia.

The principality was founded Leonard George Casley when he and his associates proclaimed their secession from the state of Western Australia.

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2003 – Nina Simone died. American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music.

Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

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ZamZam Well – Islamic Holy Well

Venturing a little further from our usual British and Irish Holy Wells…

Zamzam is the name of a famous well in al-Masjid al-Haraam [the Sacred Mosque in Makkah], which is thirty-eight cubits away from the Ka’bah. It is the well from which Allah quenched the thirst of Ismaa’eel the son of Ibraaheem  when he was an infant.

So what is so special about Zamzam water? In a word: Everything! There is nothing ordinary about it. The miracle of how it came to being in the middle of a desert, its consistency throught out 1000s of years, the beneficial qualities it has, the fact that it never dries up. This water is special.

Full article & pictureshttp://holywells.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=83

 

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Almanac – December 19

1111 – Al-Ghazali died. Abū Hāmed Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazālī , known as Al-Ghazali or Algazel to the Western medieval world, was a Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent.

Al-Ghazali has sometimes been referred to by historians as the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Others have cited his movement from science to faith as a detriment to Islamic scientific progress.

Besides his work that successfully changed the course of Islamic philosophy—the early Islamic Neoplatonism developed on the grounds of Hellenistic philosophy, for example, was so successfully refuted by al-Ghazali that it never recovered—he also brought the orthodox Islam of his time in close contact with Sufism.

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1843 – Charles Dickens‘  A Christmas Carol first went on sale. It remains popular, has never been out of print,  and has been adapted to film, stage, opera, and other media multiple times.

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1848 – Emily Brontë died. English novelist and poet, best remembered for her solitary novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. She died of tuberculosis, aged 30.

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1915 – Édith Piaf born. French singer who became widely regarded as France’s national popular singer, as well as being one of France’s greatest international stars. Her singing reflected her life, with her specialty being ballads. Among her songs are “La Vie en rose” (1946), “Non, je ne regrette rien” (1960), “Hymne à l’amour” (1949), “Milord” (1959), “La Foule” (1957), “l’Accordéoniste” (1955), and “Padam… Padam…” (1951).

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1918 – Professor Longhair born. AKA  Henry Roeland Byrd, New Orleans blues singer and pianist, noteworthy for having been active in two distinct periods, both in the heyday of early rhythm and blues, and in the resurgence of interest in traditional jazz after the founding of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The journalist Tony Russell, in his book The Blues – From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, stated “The vivacious rhumba-rhythmed piano blues and choked singing typical of Fess were too weird to sell millions of records; he had to be content with siring musical offspring who were simple enough to manage that, like Fats Domino or Huey “Piano” Smith. But he is also acknowledged as a father figure by subtler players like Allen Toussaint and Dr. John.”

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1989 – Stella Gibbons died aged 87.  English novelist, journalist, poet, and short-story writer, best remembered for her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, the sucess of which tended to overshadow her subsequent work, and of which she later commented  “Cold Comfort Farm is a member of my family; he is like some unignorable old uncle, to whom you have to be grateful because he makes you a handsome allowance, but who is often an embarrassment and a bore.”

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2000 – Roebuck “Pops” Staples died. American gospel and R&B musician. A  pivotal figure in gospel in the 1960s and 70s,  he was an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and singer. He was the patriarch and member of singing group The Staple Singers, which included his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Yvonne, and Cleotha.

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Almanac – July 16th

622 – The beginning of the Islamic calendar.

1910John Robertson Duigan makes the first flight of the Duigan pusher biplane, the first aircraft built in Australia.

1941 –  Birth of Desmond Dekker, Jamaican ska and reggae singer-songwriter.

 

1945 – The first atomic bomb was detonated near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Soon it would be tried out on real live people.

1951 The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is published for the first time by Little, Brown and Company. I know its supposed to be a classic of modern literature, but I was never able to get beyond the second chapter….

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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