Randy Weston African Rhythms
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recorded  14 > 17 March 1995  
The Hit Factory  New York  USA
CD   1995   Verve/Gitanes    529 237-2

| real | wm |  

liner notes

Randy Weston piano
Alex Blake bass
Neil Clarke
Talib Kibwe
flute, alt sax
Benny Powell
Billy Harper tenor sax
Billy Higgins

Randy Weston
producer, liner notes
Jean-Philippe Allard
Talib Qadir Kibwe
Jay Newland
Carl Glanville
assistant engineer
Seth Rothstein
production coordination
Harry Gruyaert
Rhashidah E. McNeill liner notes

  1   The Beauty of It All  (Weston)
  2   Loose Wig
  3   Tangier Bay
  4   F.E.W. Blues
  5   Uncle Nemo
  6   Lagos
  7   A Night in Mbari
  8   Saucer Eyes
  9   The Three Pyramids and the Sphynx
10   Casbah kids
11   Jahjûka
12   The Gathering



Saga is a recording of high energy and creativity. Adding yet another chapter to his ever-evolving story, of the music Randy takes a different turn on this recording. Saga is a vibrant celebration of life. In the Saga Wolof language, according to Randy, Saga means coming together "or coming home." It's celebratory spirit is, in part, due to the rich excitement created the week before by Randy and some of the African Rhythms musicians in Toronto, Canada, where Randy played for a week at the Top 'O the senator jazz club. Due to the great enthusiasm and eager anticipation shown by Randy Weston’s fans, and also to the Adept.

Successful media blitz created and perpetuated by Michael Ikeda, Randy was very well-received in Toronto in April 1994. It was also the week of his birthday when he became a radiant, youthful 69 years young. The Toronto gig was more like a party to celebrate not only his birthday but another chapter to his unending story of the music and its African origins.

However, although Randy didn't plan it that way, this gig also served as a warm-up for Randy and some of the musicians who participated on the recording session of Saga. The musical director for the recording, Talib Kibwe, percussionist Neil Clarke, bassist Alex Blake and Randy Weston all had the chance to capture that spirit of high energy that They continued to boost at the recording of Saga in New York at the hit factory studios before joining the rest of the cast of musicians : Billy Harper, saxophone, Billy Higgins, drums, and Benny Powell, trombone.


The Beauty of it All

This song is a beautiful ballad. I wanted to do something slow and pretty. Its about the beauty of life and the whole spiritual process. This piece features Billy Harper on saxophone."

Loose Wig its an old tune that goes back to the '50's actually. I think that when you hear this tune you hear the strong monk influence. It features myself and Billy Harper. Billy is such a great saxophone player. He plays those quick changes. What inspired me to write it, well, I was living in a surrounding that was really crazy, early '50's, not too long after the war, So it kind of describes a state of mind with a sense of humor, loose wig!'

Tangier Bay
This song features Talib Kibwe on saxophone. It was created in the late 60's, about 1968. The house that I lived in faced Spain, the straits of Gibraltar, and on a clear morning you could see the sun rise, but the biggest sun I ever saw, just huge. The story of Tangier Bay is that the first part is the morning and you see the glimmer of the rays of the sun, and the sun is orange, and by the time the sun rises that's when Tangier starts to come to life, and that's when we go into the rhythms at the market and everyday life.

F.E.W. Blues
Written about my dad in the 50's, a slow blues with the piano and trombone featuring myself and Benny Powell.

Uncle Nemo is a grand old man with a long white beard and a cane, and it was some music playing somewhere and he started doing the Charleston. So his name is Uncle Nemo. This features myself and Billy Higgins on drums.


Night in M'bari

Saucer eyes
'This song is a 50's tune. I used to go to this bar, and there was this barmaid who had really large eyes-saucer eyes. Its like a battle of the two saxophones where they challenge each other. The piano sets the beginning with a melody. It was that period of adjustment after I had come back from the army.'

3 Pyramids & the Sphinx
Alex Blake and myself are featured on this song dedicated to Cheikh Anta Diop. It's a real, beautiful, mysterious piece. ('Cheikh Anta Diop was the first scientist to prove the African origin of civilization, particularly in Egypt through the disciplines of archeology, anthropology, linguistics, chemistry and physics. Born in Senegal, dr. Diop was the director of the radio-carbon laboratory at the Institut fondamental d’Afrique Noire, at the University of Dakar, Senegal. He was educated at the University of Paris, France and at the University of Dakar.)

Casbah Kids are those kids in Tangier, Morocco whom I first met. You know kids are sometimes attracted to giants, so I’d walk through the Casbah and all these kids would be following me. Wonderful kids up in the Casbah. This song is a happy, funny little tune featuring myself on piano and Talib Kibwe on flute.

This is a piece with Neil and myself about a village in Morocco in the Rif mountains where a group of musicians by that name live. They play there, they practice there. They cure people there, and this song is to honor them

The gathering is like when all the chiefs come together, another global view of African people, gathering to prepare a vision of our future.

1995  by Randy Weston as told to Rhashidah E. McNeill

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