26 March 2008

Enthusiasms (16) ~ Randy Weston

I have been fortunate enough to see Randy Weston a couple of times in the past decade and each occasion has been a treat. There are several reasons to admire him beyond that fact that at 80 plus years old he keeps on playing inspired and inspiring music. The first is that he sees himself as part of a lineage of great African-American musicians and that he pays tribute to his predecessors whether these be world famous composers like Ellington and Monk or innumerable anonymous African griots. The second is that over the years he has teamed up with arranger Melba Liston, an extremely talented woman in a music dominated by men. The third is that he has recorded in a wide range of settings from solo piano to large ensemble all in extremely compelling ways.

I own each of the records pictured here as well as several other of Weston's recordings and recommend them all. They are difficult to come by but well worth keeping watch for. The Portraits of Thelonious Monk CD is one of a three part series that includes Portraits of Duke Ellington and Self-Portraits all issued by Verve in 1989. The recordings with Liston - The Spirits of Our Ancestors and Volcano Blues - were also issued by Verve in the early 1990s. I hope I'm lucky enough to see Weston again before long. I hope you are lucky enough to see him play too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randy Weston is a national treasure. It is that simple. I found the Portrait of Thelonious Monk disappointing, but uncharacteristically so. I would add to your list African Cookbook, Saga and especially The Spirits of Our Ancestors.

27 March, 2008 07:53  

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