Yusef Lateef: A Centenary Celebration
To mark the centenary of Yusef Lateef’s birth, the UMass Fine Arts Center celebrates his life with a multi-faceted, online project that includes: a live virtual concert, an exhibit of his visual art, a photo gallery of images, readings of scholarly papers relating to Lateef, dramatic readings of his fiction, film excerpts about Lateef, and 100 short video responses to Lateef by a cross-section of musicians, writers, former students, friends, colleagues and family.
On Friday, October 9, 2020, five improvisers each played short solo pieces to launch the Centenary Celebrtion. Featuring Alexis Marcelo (piano); Gwen Laster (violin); Fay Victor (voice); Adam Rudolph (percussion); Douglas Ewart (reeds).
We asked a wide variety of people who knew Yusef Lateef to reflect on the ways he impacted their lives, detail the nature of their relationship, share stories, and think deeply about his legacy.
Curated and organized by UMass Theater Department faculty member Dr. Priscilla Page, this section features dramatic readings by theater makers who draw from Yusef Lateef’s novellas, Another Avenue and Night in the Garden of Love and his collection of short stories, Spheres.
Grounded in scholarship and matching the expansiveness of his views on life and art, this section, organized by Dr. Jason Robinson and Dr. Priscilla Page, will reflect many aspects of Dr. Lateef’s life, creative work, and influence. Work representing both new and ongoing research will be added throughout the year.
It is hard to find a musician who explored more different kinds of music than Yusef Lateef.
This collection of performances, curated by his close collaborator, Adam Rudolph, hints at Dr. Lateef’s prodigious musical interests and immense talent across all musical boundaries.
Yusef Lateef thought deeply about many things, and others had a lot to say in return. This section, curated by percussionist and bandleader Adam Rudolph, represents a small sample of the written activity generated by Brother Lateef.
Comments by Alhena Katsof, a most sincere enthusiast and respected curator of the art of Yusef Lateef:
“One of the things that is incredible about Lateef’s visual art is that it evokes a microscopic world and a macro-world at the same time. Sometimes it looks as though he’s drawing cellular activity or the ocean, other times it looks like an entire galaxy. There are numerous details in the drawings, various kinds of mark-making, and a range of colors. They are, in and of themselves, spectacular. And to know that they were done as part of the continuum that was Lateef’s creative practice is beyond special.”
These images were taken over the years by friends, colleagues and professional photographers.
Yusef Lateef spent 93 years on this earth, and touched thousands of lives. We reached out to many, but not all of those touched by him. We would appreciate if you would add your thoughts about Brother Yusef, and this project.