Randy Weston African Rhythms
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Nigeria
International Award for Jazz
Randy Weston


Roots
13th March, 1988

Citation read by Ms. Funke Adedoyin, trophy presented by Chief (Mrs.) Bimbo Rhodes, representing the Ooni of Ife. at the National Theatre, Lagos , Nigeria.

 

Jazz is rooted in and inspired by African music and Randy Weston practices pan-Africanism through his music.  He believes that the key is African music because it has the spiritual power to bring people of all races together. Africa has an abundance of those sounds and those rhythms. Africa is not only the beginning of civilization but also the future.

 

He calls his jazz, "African Rhythms". Born in Brooklyn New York, he is a composer, band leader, pianist, lecturer and cultural ambassador. One of the most prolific composers in the world, his music encompasses the strong influences of his earlier mentors, which include Duke Ellington, Count Basic and Thelonius Monk, because it is layered with African and Caribbean rhythms, resulting in a unique melody which distinguishes him from any other contemporary pianist.

 

He has received numerous awards; starting in the USA in 1935 with the New star pianist award of the international critics poll ;  and from France, Switzerland, America and today from Nigeria.

 

This award is a rightful tribute to a giant, both literally and musically; a pianist whose work in Nigeria started with performances and lectures for the American Society of African Culture and continues with repeated appearances, both private and public in this country. He has lived and worked in much of North and West Africa, both as a soloist and as band leader, a lecturer and as a cultural ambassador.

 

His work is much recorded by other artists in the USA, where he received a Grammy Award nomination for best jazz performance by a big band. The Academy du Jazz in France who made him a recipient of their first award. He has taken his African rhythm as far as Polynesia and Asia and worked throughout Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the USA, and continues to bring fresh ideas into every composition. In the words of Duke Ellington, his music is 'beyond category.'  It is totally unique, serious dramatic, infectious and delightful.  The New York Times describes him as a 'descendant of two strong musical personalities.
Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk but far from being absorbed by these  influences he has built a strong identity of his own music, filled with melody, rhythm and a dramatic flair that distinguishes him from any other contemporary artist.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this giant nomad of jazz and African Rhythm, RANDY WESTON, is being honored today by us for consistently enriching our lives through his projection of the roots of jazz and for remaining so different and yet so infectious, so accessible, so versatile, to proficient a musician.
 

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