After contributing seven decades of
musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remains one of the world's
foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary.
Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, his global creations
musically continue to inform and inspire.
"Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and
Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat," states jazz critic
Stanley Crouch, "but his art is more than projection and time; it's the
result of a studious and inspired intelligence...an intelligence that is
creating a fresh synthesis of African elements with jazz technique".
by Carol Friedman
Randy Weston's latest
The African Nubian Suite is epic storytelling told in many voices, many registers, many dimensions recording.
The Roots of the Blues, Randy Weston and Billy Harper's long partnership has culminated in their first duo recording. (JJA Jazz Award - Duo of the year 2014).
The Storyteller, Weston's first
recording with the whole African Rhythms ensemble since 2002. Recorded live at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's
Club Coca-Cola, the set features drummer Lewis Nash with members of
Weston's regular quintet: trombonist Benny Powell; alto saxophonist TK
Blue; bassist Alex Blake; and percussionist Neil Clarke.
Zep Tepi, his first trio album in many years. The 10 songs on this
album reflect the arc of his musical journey from: old favorites to new
Randy Weston Live in St. Lucia, a live registration of the
Randy Weston African Rhythms Quintet.
Ancient Future is a 2 disc solo piano recording that combines 16 solo
piano recordings with 7 solo piano recording from 1984 that was released
Blue on 1750 Arch Records produced by Thomas Buckner.
Ancient Future is a meditation on music's origins.
"I thought about
Osiris," Weston recalled, "when he was assigned to teach man about
civilization and he used music to do it." Spare, contemplative, "
Ancient Future " is evocative of William Grant Still's "Africa (A Poem
for Orchestra in Three Movements)" (1928).
The 1990's witnessed a string of recordings on Verve Records that exhibit
Randy Weston’s pioneering musical aspiration.
SPIRIT! The power of music 1999, Randy Weston African Rhythms Quintet
and the master Gnawa musicians of Morocco was released. "What
was so wonderful was that we had these three religions, Christianity,
Islam and Yoruba, in music and the church was just packed with people. It
was so spiritual, all this wonderful music together. So it was quite,
quite the evening, one I’ll never forget.”
Khepera saw the release in 1998, in which Randy Weston makes the
connection between African and Chinese music,
Earth Birth saw the release in 1997, featuring Randy Weston with The
Montreal String Orchestra.
Saga saw the release of the critically acclaimed recording.
Volcano Blues in 1993, Randy Weston teams up with long-time
Melba Liston and criss-crosses the Atlantic chronicling the
originations and destinations of the genre of African-American Music.
The Splendid Master Gnawa musicians of Morocco was recorded in 1992,
Never in the history of Moroccan culture have their ever been nine hag'houges (guinbres) together with two percussionists. Each master
sang his own song; after each one finished another continued. It
was a historic moment.
Randy Weston's musical odyssey is another installment in an already
amazing body of work. In 1991, he told the story of the roots of the
blues on Spirits of our Ancestors. The
set was hailed for its concept as
well as its musicianship.
Robert Palmer wrote in Rolling Stone, "SPIRITS! is the kind of 'jazz'
record that, like Miles' KIND OF BLUE, connects with anyone who hears it.
of Randy Weston’s musical offerings has resulted in the following awards:
In 2017 "Legends of Jazz" award from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem
In 2016 Randy Weston was added to the "DownBeat Hall of Fame"
In 2015 The New School, New York honored him with artist-in-residence
In 2014 Doris Duke Award 2014 Jazz
In 2013 New England Conservatory of Music, honored him with the degree "Doctor of Music"
In 2012 Colby College honored him with the degree "Doctor of Music"
In 2011 Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
In 2011 Moroccan King Mohammed VI's Honor
for his commitment to Morocco's Gnawa Music Tradition
In 2009 Randy Weston was added to the "ASCAP
Jazz Wall of
In 2006 Brooklyn
College honored him with the degree "Doctor of Music"
In 2003 New York University honored him with two weeks artist-in-residence and
In 2001 He received the
Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts
In 2000 He received the Arts Critics and Reviewers Ass. of Ghana, Black
Music Star Award
Harvard University honored him with a 1
week residency and tribute concert
In 1997 He received
The French Order Of Arts And Letters
In 1995 The Montreal Jazz Festival gave him a 5 night tribute.
In 1999, 1996 and 1994 he also won Composer of the year from Downbeat
Randy Weston, born in Brooklyn, New York
in 1926, didn't have to travel far to hear the early jazz giants that were
to influence him. Though Weston cites Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Art
Tatum, and of course, Duke Ellington as his other piano heroes, it was
Monk who had the greatest impact. "He was the most original I ever
heard," Weston remembers. "He played like they
must have played in Egypt 5000 years ago."
Randy Weston’s first recording as a leader came in 1954 on Riverside
Weston plays Cole Porter - Cole Porter in a modern mood
It was in the 50's when Randy Weston played around New York with Cecil
Payne and Kenny Dorham that he wrote many of his best loved tunes, "Saucer
Eyes," "Pam's Waltz," "Little Niles," and, "Hi-Fly." His
greatest hit, "Hi-Fly," Weston (who is 6' 8") says, is a "tale
of being my height and looking down at the ground.
Cheung Ching Ming
Randy Weston has never failed to make the connections between African
and American music. His dedication is due in large part to his father,
Frank Edward Weston, who told his son that he was, "an African
born in America." "He told me I had to learn about myself
and about him and about my grandparents," Weston said in an interview,
"and the only way to do it was I'd have to go back to the motherland
In the late 60's, Weston left the country. But instead of moving
to Europe like so many of his contemporaries, Weston went to Africa.
Though he settled in Morocco, he traveled throughout the continent tasting
the musical fruits of other nations. One of his most memorable
experiences was the 1977 Nigerian festival, which drew artists from
60 cultures. "At the end," Weston says, "we all
realized that our music was different but the same, because if you
out the African elements of bossa nova, samba, jazz, blues, you have
nothing..........To me, it's Mother Africa's way of surviving in the