Randy Weston’s African Rhythms

7 PM, Jamaica Performing Arts Center
July 07, 2018

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and Seed Artists are honored to present the legendary Randy Weston.

Pianist and composer Randy Weston will perform with his African Rhythms Quartet, July 7th , at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. Remarkably, Mr. Weston is still performing at full force at 92 years of age. He is a testament to the vibrancy of music as a medium of spiritual restoration. He has been characterized as a “griot of jazz and its African roots”.

Weston’s piano style owes much to Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk and it is highly distinctive in its qualities: percussive, highly rhythmic, capable of producing a wide variety of moods. His life work has been in advocacy for connecting worlds of traditions in music. He has impacted jazz composition by pioneering multicultural expression with the piano since the 1950’s.

Randy Weston was born April 6, 1926, in Brooklyn New York of Jamaican parentage. He was described by Marian McPartland as “one of the world’s great visionary pianists and composers.” Weston has said, “It’s so important to teach the history of our music and the origins of our music, which comes directly from the African continent…. Musicians have to be historians, too.” Described as “America’s African Musical Ambassador”, he has said: “I am truly blessed to have heard and spent so much time with the masters of our music during my rich cultural life of music. I am grateful to be a part of a great spiritual legacy.

In 2001, Randy Weston was inducted into the prestigious cadre of NEA Jazz Masters, thereby joining his many contemporaries Max Roach, Ray Copeland and Cecil Payne. Several of his compositions are fundamental cornerstones in the jazz lexicon. He notably maintained a fruitful musical partnership with trombonist-arranger Melba Liston, who contributed to some of Weston’s best recordings. Weston’s interest in the African continent was sparked at an early age, and he lectured and performed in Africa in the early 1960s. He toured 14 African countries with his ensemble in 1967 on a State Department tour, eventually settling in Rabat, Morocco. He later moved to Tangier, opening the African Rhythms Club, in 1969. It was in Morocco that Weston first forged unique collaborations with Berber and Gnawan musicians, infusing his jazz with African music and rhythms.