Photo: Randy Weston | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.
Program note: we’re in a new weekly Tuesday night slot from 10-12 midnight!
The next show will air on Tuesday January 29, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with pianist, composer and pan-Africanist Randy Weston. This program originally aired on September 21, 2010 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Baba Weston’s release “Uhuru Africa” and his autobiography “arranged by” Willard Jenkins titled “African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston.” Baba Weston was the “composer” of this book.
NEA Jazz Master and practitioner of African rhythms 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.”
Growing up in Brooklyn, Weston was surrounded by a rich musical community: he knew Max Roach, Cecil Payne, and Duke Jordan; Eddie Heywood lived across the street; Wynton Kelly was a cousin. Most influential of all was Monk, who tutored Weston upon visits to his apartment. Weston began working professionally in R&B bands in the late ’40s before playing in the bebop outfits of Payne and Kenny Dorham. After signing with Riverside in 1954, Weston led his own trios and quartets and attained a prominent reputation as a composer, contributing jazz standards like “Hi-Fly” and “Little Niles” to the repertoire. He also met arranger Melba Liston, who has collaborated with Weston off and on into the ’90s. Weston’s interest in his roots was stimulated by extended stays in Africa; he visited Nigeria in 1961 and 1963, lived in Morocco from 1968 to 1973 following a tour, and has remained fascinated with the music and spiritual values of the continent ever since. In the ’70s, Weston made recordings for Arista-Freedom, Polydor, and CTI while maintaining a peripatetic touring existence — mostly in Europe — returning to Morocco in the mid-’80s.
After contributing seven decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remained one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary.
Randy Weston joined the ancestors on September 1, 2018.
[(Bio adapted from Allmusic)
Watch Weston and the African Rhythms ensemble perform “Blue Moses” in this live clip from approximately 2010.
Watch Weston and saxophonist Billy Harper perform “Blues to Senegal” in this live clip
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman College in the City University of New York system.