Yusef Lateef, a Grammy Award-winning musical explorer who played many exotic instruments and was among the first to combine jazz with elements of what became known as “world music,” died Monday at his home in Shutesbury, Mass. He was 93.

His wife, Ayesha Lateef, confirmed the death to the Detroit Free Press. The cause was not immediately disclosed.

Lateef began his career as a saxophonist in swing bands in the 1930s and had a career that lasted 75 years. A man of boundless musical and intellectual curiosity, he found inspiration in the musical motifs of Asia and Africa as early as the 1950s.

He was one of the first jazz musicians to popularize the flute, and he soon added the oboe, bassoon and various other woodwind instruments from around the world to his performances. His eclectic approach influenced many other musicians, including saxophonists Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and John Coltrane.

In 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts named Lateef a jazz master, the country’s highest honor for jazz musicians.

“I’d like to help establish jazz as a pure, respected American cultural form,” he said in 1958. “I’d like the listener to be elevated morally by listening.”

But by the 1970s, he had come to disdain the term “jazz” because of what he considered various demeaning connotations associated with it.

“If you look it up, you’ll see that its synonyms include ‘nonsense,’ ‘blather,’ ‘claptrap’ and other definitions that reduce the music to poppycock and skulduggery,” he said in a 2008 interview with jazz journalist Marc Myers’s Jazz Wax website. “I find that the word ‘jazz’ is a meaningless term that too narrowly defines the music I play.”

Lateef preferred the self-coined word “autophysiopsychic” to describe what he called “music which comes from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self.”

His compositions included a well-known jazz tune, “Brother John,” in honor of Coltrane, and other works for jazz combos, string quartets and symphony orchestras. In 1987, he won a Grammy Award for “best new age performance” for “Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony,” in which he played all the instruments.

“In any given composition,” Los Angeles Times jazz critic Leonard Feather wrote in 1975, “there may be long passages that involve classical influences, impressionism, a Middle Eastern flavor, or rhythmic references to Latin America.”

Even as Lateef took his music in new directions, he worked in a recognizable jazz vocabulary, which he learned while growing up in the musical cauldron of Detroit. His primary instrument remained the tenor saxophone, which he played with a bold, bluesy intensity.

In 1957, Lateef released “Jazz for the Thinker,” the first of his more than 100 albums.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.