In over 60 years as a leader, pianist Randy Weston has achieved an incredible amount. He has recorded nearly 50 albums and has been hailed in the process as the natural heir to Duke Ellington
and Thelonious Monk
. Three times he has been voted Downbeat
's composer of the year, and his compositions have been recorded by the likes of Ahmad Jamal
, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
, Roland Kirk
, Dexter Gordon
, Abbey Lincoln
, Abdullah Ibrahim
and Jimmy Heath
amongst others. In 2001, his significance in the jazz world was officially recognized when he joined an elite group of musicians designated as NEA Jazz Masters.
At the age of 84, Randy Weston could be forgiven for resting on his laurels, but that wouldn't be his style. In fact, 2010 is proving to be one of the most significant years in his long and distinguished career. In June, his trombonist Benny Powell
passed away, marking the end of an association that had lasted 27 years. In August, the Apollo Theater paid tribute to Weston's contribution to music. The same month, Weston led a special concert in Marciac in celebration of James Reese Europe
, an African-American soldier who was the first person to bring jazz to France over 90 years ago. November, 2001 will see three noteworthy events: first, a big-band concert at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, New York to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Weston's acclaimed album Uhuru Afrika
(Roulette, 1960); second, the release of his autobiography, African Rhythms
(Duke University Press, 2010), and third, the release of a new CD, The Storyteller
(Motema Music, 2010).
All About Jazz's Far East correspondent, Ian Patterson
, spoke with Weston at length, about his long and varied career, his new record and book, and the changes the pianist has seen in the industry, and society in general, that have led to the increasing marginalization of jazz.
Check out Randy Weston: African Stories, African Rhythms
at All About Jazz today!