Monday, June 19, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Randy Weston and his African Rhythms Trio

Artist:Randy Weston and his African Rhythms Trio
Song:African Sunrise
Album:Zep Tepi

Pianist Randy Weston has been around since the 50s. And he's still touring at 91 years old. He's 6'7" so he's an imposing presence on stage. But his mix of post bop and African rhythms never gets old. He was born Apr. 6, 1926 in Brooklyn, NY where his father owned a restaurant. His dad was from Jamaica and as a staunch Marcus Garvey supporter, he passed his Afrocentric views to Weston. Weston studied classical piano and dance as a child. He got into jazz when he was a teen. He served in the US Army during WWII. Meanwhile, his dad's restaurant was frequented by jazz musicians including Duke Ellington and cousin Wynton Kelly. But Weston's big influence was Thelonious Monk. Weston started as a sideman in the late 40s. His first recording as a leader was in 1954 on Riverside Records. He started working with arranger Melba Liston in the late 50s and they had a very successful partnership in the 60s. Weston recorded for several labels including United Artists, Roulette, Verve, Polydor and CTI. He became known for incorporating African rhythms and Weston toured a lot in Africa. In the 70s and 80s, Weston recorded for a lot of small labels that were poorly distributed. His music wasn't getting exposure until he returned to Verve in the late 80s. African Sunrise was first recorded on the 1991 album The Spirits of our Ancestors which reunited Weston with Melba Liston. So the song was written for a large band. Unfortunately that album is out of print. But he recorded it on the 2006 CD Zep Tepi. It's a trio album with Weston on piano, bassist Alex Blake from Billy Cobham's band and percussionist Neil Clarke from Carlos Garnett's band. These guys have worked together a lot. As I said, Weston is 91 years old and still touring. His latest CD The African Nubian Suite was released Jan. 2017 through CD Baby. It is a concept album with a full orchestra. Weston is still going strong and I suggest you check him out if he's coming your way. Here's Randy Weston and his African Rhythm Orchestra performing African Sunrise at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival.

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