RANDY WESTON and his
AFRICAN RHYTHMS - ZEP TEPI
RANDY WESTON the great composer, the foremost pianist, the riveting
soloist, the dynamic band leader, the musical genius, the visionary, the
true cultural ambassador, the innovator, “the biggest sound of any jazz
pianist since Ellington and Monk,…the richest most inventive beat.” ***
RANDY WESTON and his AFRICAN RHYTHMS. The man and his music. The music and
the music maker. The music maker and his music-making story: his journey,
his growth, his elevation, his expansion, his depth, his destination, his
pre-destination, his contemplation of the foundation, of the source, of
the beginning, of the First Time, which is ZEP TEPI. “Zep Tepi,” the title
of this release.
His first release was in 1955: “Cole Porter in a Modern Mood.” With Age,
like African palm wine, his music has grown tastier, deeper, sweeter,
greater, soul-pleasing, spirit-uplifting, and body-regenerating at the
loftiest level. This is 2006. For over half-a-century, Randy Weston has
been making music that has defied the universal Law of Entropy: instead of
his music getting weaker and losing spunk, he has been going forward back
to the Source where it all started and has been re-connecting with the
Fountain, the Space, and the Time where ALL THINGS began, in and with
music, so that Randy Weston’s music has gotten more powerful with years.
Anyone whose mind still conserves a bit of the godly nature in humans can
feel Randy’s music to one’s physical and spiritual core.
2006 ushers in Randy Weston’s eightieth birthday, two steps from 100. This
year, the gods and goddesses of music have inspired him to tell the story,
in music, of his inspirational journey from his Zep Tepi. Each song is a
fiber that connects Randy to the Beginning, the First Time, or Zep Tepi.
Each song on this CD, each cut is part of Randy Weston’s attachments
(inspirational and historical chords) to the universe, Black, white, red,
yellow, Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia:
In Blue Moses, we follow Randy Weston to Africa, to the cradle of
humanity and of civilization. While scientists, anthropologists, and
others have been going there to search for human origins, Randy Weston
lived there, loved her, was swallowed by her and was re-birthed by her. He
spent years there and was bathed in all of her music and her spirit has
been manifesting itself in his music. A sample of this manifestation was
shown through his life and work with the Gnawa people of Morocco. The
totality of his immersion in Africa then begat “Blue Moses”.
Commissioned by the Jazz Society of Chicago to write a composition
honoring the musical greatness of Dizzy Gillespie and Machito (from Cuba),
Randy Weston collaborated with the great arranger and trombonist, Melba
Liston, and birthed African Sunrise. The title, “African Sunrise,”
is born out of the work, character, and spirit of the Great Dizzy
Gillespie who was so far ahead of his time in re-connecting with Mother
Africa that he came up with masterpieces that had such evocative titles as
“Night in Tunisia.” Dizzy went deeper by introducing, in the US and in the
Jazz genre, the African percussion by bringing in one of the greatest
percussionist in all of the Americas, the Cuban-born, Chano Pozo. Not only
was Dizzy Gillespie alive at that time to hear African Sunrise played
(unfortunately Machito had passed away before the concert honoring the
both of them), but Dizzy himself performed at its premiere with the
Chicago Orchestra, with Johnny Griffin (Tenor Saxophone), Art Blakey
(Drums), Richard Davis (Bass), and, of course, Randy Weston (piano), with
Melba Liston conducting.
Berkshire Blues, one of Randy Weston’s hit classic, takes us back
to the genesis of Randy Weston’s musical career. Born and raised in
Brooklyn, New York, the hills of Berkshire, Massachusetts, could never
have entered the mind of young Randy Weston as the place that he could
ever have thought of visiting, let alone living; a place that would,
nonetheless, see the birth of his musical career. Destiny has its own path
that humans can never fathom. As the Ancients used to say, “Man proposes,
but the Great Nzambi Pungu disposes!” Just back from serving in the Army
and finding himself in the midst of a destructive environment in the area
of Brooklyn, New York, where he lived, Randy decided to get out of town. A
very good friend, Lefty Morris, recommended Berkshire, Massachusetts. It
was while living and working menial jobs there that Randy was led to play
piano at night, after work. Encouraged, or rather being requested to give
public performances and exposed to comparative music critic and
connectivity of music to a people’s culture through lectures that were
being given there, Randy Weston was inspired to do his first recording,
launching his music career; hence, the inspiration for Berkshire Blues.
The birthing of Hi-Fly, one of Randy Weston’s greatest hit if not
the greatest, took place in the world renowned East Village on the famed
island of Manhattan, in New York City, specifically on Third Avenue and
13th Street. During this time, Randy Weston, like most Black jazz
musicians, could not perform in the halls that would pay so that, to
survive, the Black musicians would perform in private houses, inviting
friends and families and collect some money in what became known as “rent
parties.” Thus, the tall measure of “Hi-Fly,” that is pulsating and
powerful like giant Randy himself (6’9”), while its spirit is driving,
dynamic, and penetrating.
Ballard for T. In case one did not know, the “T” stands for
Thelonious Monk, the greatest influence on Piano for young (17 years old)
Randy after Duke Ellington (whose impact and inspiration encompassed the
greatest of Randy’s growing period from childhood), and the likes of Count
Basie, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum.
Portrait of Frank Edward Weston is a tribute to the one man that
gave Randy life, his father. Not only life, but “so much love” says Randy,
identity, direction “he made me take piano lessons”, humanity, and
manhood, and a perspective of life that begins in Africa, embraces the
entire world, and ends in Africa. So daddy is the inspirational force that
has allowed Randy to take his music to where he is today, and forward back
to Zep Tepi. Thus, a portrait for DADDY.
Tamasii, meaning, among other things, “soul” or “spirit” in
Japanese, was birthed as a result of Randy’s incredible experience in
Japan, his connection to the people and the spirit of Asia, and the
realization and inspiration of the links between all the peoples’ music,
wherever dwells the spirit that generates it.
The Healers is a dedication to “the very people who started music
in the first place,” to the Ancients, to the Ancestors, to they who not
only knew the power of music, but used it in all areas of life, including
the art of healing.
Love the Mystery Of is the exception to all the songs on this CD in
that it is the composition of the master percussionist from Ghana (West
Africa), Koffi Ghanaba, one of the first to bring the African drum to the
United States, which had an incredible impact on the sons and daughters of
Africa in America and on American music in general.
The birthing of Root of the Nile takes place out of the womb of the
Ancients who bequeathed mankind Zep Tepi, the Nile Valley. Randy underwent
a spiritual experience in that womb of the Ancients who bequeathed mankind
the mysteries of the first and most ancient civilization and the still
unexplained wonders in the history of all of humankind. Randy Weston’s
reconnection with that sacred womb brought him another connection with
love, with Senegal, and with Fatoumata, his wife, whom he wedded while
bathing in that Sacred Womb of the Ancestors who spoke of
Zep Tepi, of the First Time. Thus, Root of the Nile.
: String Base
A phenomenal base player with a unique bass playing style, Alex Blake has
performed with a plethora of musicians of every style worldwide. He has
toured and recorded with the “who’s who” who have ever played jazz since
he started playing music. He is called on because of his “versatility,
strength, and originality.” He is a regular member of Randy Weston’s
A student and master of percussion, Neil Clarke has studied and
collaborated with masters worldwide for over 35 years. He has been all
over Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the South
Pacific. Whatever the music, Neil Clarke is at ease with it: folkloric,
jazz, popular, rhythm and blues, gospel, or classic. He is a regular
member of Randy Weston’s African Rhythms.
Ogundipe Fayomi: CD Cover Artist
World-renowned for his sculptures, jewelry, and designs, Ogundipe Fayomi
has been designing album covers for Randy Weston since 1979 (African
Cook Book). He has created various works for various settings such as
sculptures for the City of New York (i.e., “The Ronald McNair Monument”)
and jewelry as well as sculpture designs for Essence Magazine.
Professor Yaa-Lengi Ngemi: Musical Notes
Scientist, Historian, Linguist, Author, Translator, Consultant, Critique,
and Lecturer. Author of Genocide in the Congo/Zaire and Study Guide and
More for Civilization or Barbarism, and translator of Cheikh Anta Diop’s
masterpiece, Civilization or Barbarism
Jazz critic Stanley Crouch.
2006 Yaa-Lengi M.Ngemi