The Yusef A. Lateef Collection

Identifier: MSS.1034


  • 1950s-2010s

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact

Biographical / Historical

Yusef Lateef (b. Chattanooga, TN, Oct. 9, 1920; d. Shutesbury, MA, July 25, 2013) was an American tenor saxophonist, flutist, and composer. He grew up in Detroit and performed with the bands of Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge and others. In 1948, he converted to Islam, joining the Ahmadiyya community, a revival movement within Sunni Islam. He performed for two years with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra (1948-9). Lateef moved to New York City in 1960, where he performed with Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderley, and Grant Green. Education was an important dimension of his life and career as a musician and composer, both as a student and teacher. Lateef is known for work on tenor saxophone and flute. He also played oboe. His musical activities also engaged exploration of timbre, non-Western approaches to improvisation, and use of non-Western instruments. He developed the concept of "autophysiopsychic" music as a corrective to some of the ways that the common conceptions of "jazz" reinforce racialized stereotypes. Lateef wrote both music and prose and devoted himself to teaching in the later part of his life. (Sources: Helgert, L. Lateef, Yusef. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 08 Aug. 2022. Monson, Ingrid. Yusef Lateef's Audiophysiopsychic Quest. Daedalus, 148/2(2019).)


20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

NMAAM-Vanderbilt University Collections Initiative

Purchased through the NMAAM-Vanderbilt University Collections Initiative.

Separated Materials

Some books were removed from this collection and cataloged as part of the Anne Potter Wilson Music Library's circulating collection.

Finding Aid for The Yusef A. Lateef Collection
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.