Autophysiopsychic Millennium brings teachings of Lateef


Maddy Kinard

Angel Bat Dawid engages audience members, encouraging them to physically interact with the music.

On Feb. 23, the Chicago and Detroit ensemble, Autophysiopsychic Millennium, visited Wilkes as part of the university’s final Black History Month event.

They held a luncheon for students, staff and faculty to mingle with the collective along with an evening workshop incorporating performance and discussion which was open to the public.

Led by Hazleton native, Dr. Adam Zanolini, Angel Bat Dawid and LuFuki, the collective was brought together through the researching and studying of the extensive work and legacy of Dr. Yusef Abdul Lateef who was a great saxophonist, musician, entertainer, composer, thinker and more. As Dawid calls the group, they are a “research performance ensemble.”

The term “autophysiopsychic,” first coined by Lateef, considers the ways in which music impacts the physical, mental and spiritual self. Lateef rejected the term “jazz,” as it stems primarily from the entertainment industry which he felt did not effectively represent what jazz was created from: places of cultural, spiritual and historical importance.

It was not just meant to entertain people and Lateef wanted to create that distinction between his music and this other concept of music that circulated around amusement.

“He was important to me personally because he was one of the first jazz artists that I saw using different instruments in jazz,” said Dawid. “It was just music. It wasn’t just this genre that they wanted to say, ‘oh it’s black people, they do this’. Sometimes as black artists, we’re put into categories as entertainers, and that’s it. His works should be in universities.”

The Autophysiopsychic Millennium is an amalgamation of two separate groups, one based in Detroit and the other in Chicago, which was formed recently in 2021. Dawid and Zanolini created a musicians collective called “The Participatory Music Coalition” in 2014. Meanwhile, LuFuki had his own band, “Divine Providence.” Angel and Lufuki met online and had invited his band to come and perform at Elastic Arts on a double bill with her and Zanolini’s own group.

“We just got together and went berserk,” said Zanolini. Members of the ensemble also include Tazeen Ayub, Sophiyah E., Mike Monford, Luc Mosley, Sojourner Zenobia, Ayanna Woods and Nur Dhul-Qarnayn.

“It’s very spiritual and very sacred. For me, when we come, we don’t perform. We experience this music,” said Ayub. “And I think it requires the musician to tap into spirit. To tap into something greater than ourselves and that is the most important part about what we do. It’s not about the ego. It’s about what is the instrument, the vocals, what are we channeling? And all of that comes down to spirit.”

Zenobia further describes it as a way of “being”. A way of being in one’s own body, using voice, being with the earth and people within the room. For her, it’s a “portal” that the musicians and audience members alike dive into and receive messages of wisdom. The whole experience is an exchange between attendees and themselves, who they encourage to honor and receive the messages they might be receiving during the workshop.

For Zanolini, autophysiopsychic music has impacted the way he not only sees the world but also the way he interacts with it. He compares it to the power of positive energy, and when done musically, that positive energy comes back like an echo. But he first fostered this now love and appreciation for the art form while growing up in Hazleton.

“Hazleton has got a lot of heart, it was a great place to grow up. That’s where I learned about music. When I was coming up, you could get free music lessons at school so that’s where I learned how to play the saxophone, my first instrument, and it got me hungry to learn more instruments and now I play upright bass, flute, congas, keys and more,” said Zanolini. “It’s where I developed my love of music. The feeling and the passion came from when I lived in Hazleton. This is just a strong place to come from. When I left I was sorta like ‘yeah there’s not much going on around here’ but every time I come back, I miss it a lot.”

After the evening’s workshopping performance, the ensemble was on their way to perform at Carnegie Hall in part with the Afrofuturism Festival.