Tuesday, June 2, 2009

for yusuf lateef

for yusuf lateef

gentle one, as yr name suggests, to bring
congregants into a most holy presence &
interpret the mysterious & arcane is yr well-kept
charge. u who brings increase, who adds
nuance, subtlety & abstraction to every
construction of the blues; who introduces new
sounds & tone color blends — tonal visions of
tibetan prayer wheels, bagan pagodas, the
qasba & the serengeti migration — new
vocabulary to the post-bop musical lexicon;
who brought to world music the deft touch of a
master’s hand. diz heard u, as did miles. &
even tho’ u looked up to him, sonny rollins
considers u a peer. some say u even
influenced trane. we all heard u play yr
philosophy, yr autophysiopsychic vision on
tenor sax, flute & oboe; on shanai, bamboo
flute, shofar, argol, koto & sarewa. i certainly
heard u; winced as u stretched my creative
vision, wandering with u thru mystic cattle
fulani countrysides, making me see & hear
who they were, making me see who u were,
seeing u cut fulani flutes from trees & play
them until they dried up. i am richer for the
experience of u; i am increased. u have
flavored my verse & guided me to a path to
follow, replete with method, order & notation,
a path joined by a mad company of prophets,
siddiqin (truthful), shuhada (witnesses), and
salihin (pious), where all who live, write &
play what they believe will be drawn into the
loving embrace of the sacred– as salamu
alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

©Joseph McNair;2009


  1. I love this man!

  2. asilithejournal.blogspot.comJuly 4, 2009 at 11:52 PM

    I worked with Dr/ Lateef at Ahmadu Bello Univirsity from 1982-1987. Just being in his presence was life-changing