Kennedy Center Jazz/Randy Weston

Detail from the Randy Weston CD 'Live in St. Lucia'  

As part of the Art Tatum Piano Panorama, the Kennedy Center presents Randy Weston's African Rhythms. Randy Weston will look up and see Tatum's image on a red banner over the stage, but he will not be daunted by it. He says, "We are all musicians. Our hearts are our drums, our voice are our sounds."

We may all be participants in music, but Randy Weston is a superior creator. Tonight's Bosendorfer has extra keys on the low end, and Randy will play those keys and all the others in a set that's colorful, rhythmic, atmospheric, quiet and intense, spacey and deep.

Randy Weston was born in 1926 to parents who still inspire him. His Panamanian father felt a deep connection to Africa. The family ran a restaurant in Brooklyn, featuring a very hip jukebox with all the latest jazz sides. The young jazzmen of Brooklyn hung out to eat and listen, and befriended the owner's son (growing taller and more handsome by the minute).

Randy became a disciple of Thelonious Monk, watching Monk play the piano for hours. Randy took his musical direction from Monk. He eased into performing and composing during a summer in the Berkshires. Then he began traveling between Brooklyn and Africa, living in both places for long stretches, connecting with musicians in the universal language. Over the decades, his recordings have traced his remarkable career and creativity.

Since the 1990s, the recordings often feature his African Rhythms quintet with TK Blue on sax/flute, Benny Powell on trombone, Alex Blake on bass, Neil Clarke on African percussion.

"Lagos/A Night in Mbari" (Weston, Tempo Music, ASCAP/Twenty-Eighth Street Music, BMI)
"Borum Xam Xam" (Weston, Black Sun Music, SESAC)
"Chromatic Love Affair" (Ellington, Tempo Music, ASCAP)
"Hi Fly" (Weston, ASCAP)
"African Sunrise" (Weston, arr. Melba Liston, Black Sun Music, SESAC)


  • Randy Weston Web Site
  • The NEA Jazz Master Web page for Randy Weston

    Kennedy Center: Sr. Vice President Derek Gordon, Program Manager Kevin Struthers, House Sound Engineer Joe Stanton, Artistic Advisor Dr. Billy Taylor.

    Recording by Greg Hartman with Assistant Michael Caplan, Big Mo Recording

    Dee Dee Bridgewater recorded by Ginger Bruner at KUNV-FM, Las Vegas, Your Jazz Spot in Southern Nevada.

    JazzSet is produced at WBGO-FM, Newark, NJ.