The Pace Report: "Brother Africa" The Randy Weston Interview (courtesy Brian Pace)
"Pianist, composer, and activist Randy Weston has had a wonderful 2010. His latest autobiography "African Rhythms" was co-written by Willard Jenkins to rave and critical reviews. Weston, who celebrated his 85th birthday this year, also released "The Storyteller" in which he played and recorded with the African Rhythms unit since 2002. This live recording was recorded at the famed Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The NEA Jazz Master, former club owner, and noted African historian; tells all in his latest book that took over 50 years to get on paper. Weston, a Brooklyn native, gave a stirring performance at the Brooklyn Museum hosted by the Brooklyn Arts Council. During the evening the audience was treated to history of the motherland as well as a performance of the African Rhythms ensemble.
Weston's father instilled in him from a early age to connect and study his African roots. Throughout his childhood into early adulthood, Randy never took the piano seriously but could play and developed into one of the most important and living jazz musicians of his generation. Trained by one of his many hero's Thelonious Monk, he's also credited Nat "King" Cole, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Art Tatum as some of his musical influences. He was even childhood buddies with the legendary Max Roach.
Randy didn't become a leader until the mid-50's but his musical legacy will always be remembered for compositions such as "Hi-Fly," "Pam's Waltz," "Little Niles," and the monumental "Uhuru Afrika" featuring poet Langston Hughes and arranger Melba Liston.
During the late 1960's Weston moved to Morocco where he opened a nightclub where he wanted to play his own music as well as learn and study music from his fellow Africans.
Randy and I sat down to talk about his book as well as the 50th anniversary of Uhuru Afrika and the recent performance back in early November."