Yusef Lateef

Jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist from the United States

Yusef Lateef

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to "Russell and Eliot" by Yusef Lateef, a song released in 1968 by an American jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Lateef's family settled in Detroit early in his life, and he grew up surrounded by music and prominent jazz players. Lateef was known for crossing genres and cultures in his music, and today's funky song from the late 1960s is from an era on Atlantic Records (that went well into the 1970s) during which he flourished and broke eclectic and innovative ground.

Yusef Lateef 📷 Anthony Barboza

Go deeper with this excerpt from and a link to an excellent in-depth interview with John Kruth on his newsletter, Sonic Cocktails:

JK: “Russell and Elliot” is one of your best-known pieces from your Atlantic recordings. It’s been included on quite a few compilations over the years but first appeared on (1969’s) Yusef Lateef’s Detroit. While the band is great, the tone and depth of emotion that pours out of your tenor on the solo is really powerful.

YAL: Thank you. That composition was inspired by an experience that I had in grade school, in about seventh or eighth grade at the Russell grade school on the corner of Russell and Elliot. Diagonally across from the school was a spiritualist church. The windows were painted so you couldn’t see in but I could hear the sounds of the music. Sometimes I would stop there and listen. That piece is the outcome of the experience of listening to musical, spiritual and vocal sounds coming from inside the church. When the idea came to write Yusef Lateef’s Detroit of course “Russell and Elliot” was an experience that left a strong impressions that found its way to the album.