William Evans, 9 October 1920, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. Raised in Detroit, Michigan, Lateef began playing tenor saxophone in his late teens. In New York in the mid-40s he played in bands led by Lucky Millinder, Roy Eldridge and other leading jazz musicians of the swing era, but later in the decade, in Chicago, he played with Dizzy Gillespie. Thereafter, his work was consciously modern in style. In the mid-50s he adopted the Muslim faith and took the name by which he is now known. He led several small bands during this period and also began to play flute. At the end of the decade he was again in New York, this time working with leading modernists amongst whom were Charles Mingus and Cannonball Adderley. He also led his own groups for public performance and record dates. In the 70s and 80s Lateef extended the number of instruments upon which he performed, now including the oboe and bassoon and also a wide range of similar Asian and African reeds. He revealed himself as a gifted performer on all these instruments and later recordings showed an increasing interest in various ethnic musical forms, sometimes - not always - fused with jazz, and crossing over into new age mood music. In addition to his performing career, he has taught music and has lately become proficient as a writer and painter. From the early 90s he has recorded on his own YAL label, often in collaboration with Adam Rudolph.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.