Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Meet the Big Man...

Randy Weston is an imposing figure. He's six feet, seven inches tall and possesses a gracefulness than belies his height. He's composed several tunes that have become virtual standards in the jazz repertoir - "Hi Fly", "Little Niles" (composed for his son) and "Berkshire Blues". The African tradition has never been far from his musical conception. He resided in Morocco for five years (1967 - 1972) stuying African music and culture and it is clearly apparent in his music. Initially influenced by Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington (he's recorded fine tributes to both men), Weston has gone on to be, himself, a major influence on younger players. He's toured and

recorded with the Master Musicians of Gnawa. I was lucky enough to catch them at the Montreal International Jazz Festival (back when it was a jazz festival). It was magical!

So why isn't Randy Weston better known to jazz listeners today? Beats me.

What you have before you today is a Randy Weston recording - High Life - recorded before he moved to Africa and a Randy Weston concert that took place after he'd left Africa. It's a span of almost thirty years. Listen to how his music has changed over the years. Listened to how it has stayed the same. Listen to how it has evolved...

Album (here) - The line-up is: Randy Weston (piano); Ray Copeland (trumpet, flugelhorn); Aaron Bell (tuba); Quentin Jackson (trombone); Julius Watkins (french horn); Booker Ervin (tenor sax); Budd Johnson (soprano Sax, tenor sax); Peck Morrison (bass); Charlie Persip (drums); Frankie Dunlop (percussion); George Young (percussion); Archie Lee (congas).

The playlist is:
1. Caban Bamboo Highlife
2. Niger Mambo
3. Zulu
4. In Memory Of
5. Congolese Children
6. Blues to Africa
7. Mystery of Love

Concert (here) The line-up and playlist is on the image above.


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