Randy Weston

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LITTLE NILES

recorded  October 1958 
New York   USA
LP   1959  United Artists    UAL 4011 / UAS 5011
LP             Blue Note         LA598-H2 

Collections:
        CD   2009  Jazzbeat  540
        CD   2003  Mosaic              004

        LP    LITTLE NILES  Blue Note LA 598-H2   2 LP set

| real | wm |  
 

          liner notes


Randy Weston piano
Ray Copeland
trumpet  (except 7)
Idrees Sulieman
trumpet  (on 7)
Melba Liston
trombone
Johnny Griffin
tenor sax
George Joyner
(Jamil Nasser) bass
Charlie Persip
drums

Melba Liston
arranger
Jack Lewis 
producer
Ray Hall 
engineer

Langston Hughes  liner notes
 

  1   Earth Birth  (Weston)
  2   Little Susan
  (Weston)
  3   Nice Ice
  (Weston)
  4   Little Niles
  (Weston)
  5   Pamís Waltz
  (Weston)
  6   Letís Climb a Hill
  (Weston)
  7   Babeís Blues
  (Weston)


LITTLE NILES


PIANO MUSIC IS AS OLD AS THE PIANO which as an instrument, in variations of its present form, dates back some 250 years. Millions of fingers have rippled the keys since then. But not until Randy Weston put the enormous hands of his six-foot-seven frame to the piano did exactly what happens in his playing emerge from that ancient instrument. Weston's pianistics have an individuality all their own.

When Randy plays, a combination of strength and gentleness, virility and velvet emerges from the keys in an ebb and flow of sound seemingly as natural as the waves of the sea. And like waves breaking against the irregularity of a craggy coastline, there is a great variety of musical sound over the steady pulse of a rhythmical tide, like the regularity of sea touching shore.

Randy Weston says that his influences are American, African and Asian. Weston was born and raised in Brooklyn, but his army service took him to Asia where during World War 2 he was a supply sergeant in Okinawa and the Philippines. His parentage is partly West Indian and -back a ways yet- African. His environment is urban U.S.A.

His early jazz heroes were Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, then Thelonious Monk, all giants of the piano in one way or another-all big yet delicate, strong yet gentle in their treatment of the instrument. But Weston is like none of these three when he makes his own music, often created in the playing at the keyboard. His compositions are uniquely his own, and on this record he plays entirely the music of Randy Weston.

These compositions are as much his own as are Niles and Pamela, his two children for whom and about whom this music came into being. As arranged for ensemble playing and performed now on this recording, it is music for grownups to listen to with delight, and for children to grow up to listening. All in three-quarter time, these charming little vignettes escape rigidity of beat by a fluid flow of counter-rhythms and melodies, one against another, that brings continuous delight.

Earth Birth is the gradual realization of the wide wonder of the world as a child senses the way plants grow and sprout and wave up out of the earth, the way rains come, the way sun shines upon the great big roundness of our solid old earth. Here Melba Liston's trombone talks about the warmth and vastness of it all.

Little Susan is musically concerned with a friend of Pam's - a calypso child shaking calypso curls as she prances in a carnival of her own imagining, dreaming up a street full of drums and drummers, parades and dancers dancing down the pavement beneath a bright high sun.

Nice Ice, in contrast, is a cold gray day and spooky trees with barren branches around a frozen pool where skaters glide, the nice ice glistening and crackling beneath the blades of whirling, gliding, skating skates. Fun in the winter wind! A skein of many skaters - and Johnny Griffin's tenor sax is the wind that pushes the skaters round and round in rhythmic counterpoint. One more time round and round!

Little Niles, the title piece of this album, is in abbreviated form also a song for which Jon Hendricks has written descriptive lyrics that go in part like this:

 

Every little boy in one,
And so much fun, Little Niles!
Half a man and half a child
And when he smiles
Like all children everywhere
He's living truth...
There are days
When his mischievous ways
Make you shout
And wear your patience out Ė
Still you know you'll stand
His every whim
Just because you see yourself
In him - Little Niles...
 

Pam's Waltz was composed for Little Niles' sister who is eight, a year older than Niles, and who likes to dance to her father's music. As a waltz it is not at all traditional. But for a child it is wonderfully bright and melodic in its exploration of a simple theme lovely to hear.

Babe's Blues is an overheard strain of the blues as it might stick in a child's mind, repeat itself, be toyed with in musical thought, make its own series of circles like a stone dropped in a pool of sound, into the deep cool blueness of sound - down, down, down, down - George Joyner's bass like a glossy round stone water-rocking down. Meanwhile Sulieman's trumpet spreads its dreamy circles of sound.

Let's Climb a Hill becomes a child's ambling, rambling summertime walk up a long lazy path that is sometimes quite steep, sometimes running downhill only to run uphill again, sometimes hiding under leafy trees - path of adventures, path of little thrills of a leafy lacework of tympani sunshine and bass fiddle shade on a lyrical trip up a musical hill.

Modern tone poems, impressionistic pictures, cool tantalizers of the imagination are these lyrically lovely compositions in sound created by Randy Weston.
 

1959  Langston Hughes
 

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