Randy Weston

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BLUES TO AFRICA

recorded  14 August 1974
The Aula Ramibuhl  Zürich   Switzerland
CD    1988  Freedom   741014
LP    1975  Freedom   40153 


| real | wm |  

         liner notes


Randy Weston piano

Alan Bates
producer
Peter Pfister
engineer
Bruno Spoerri
engineer
Cheryll Weston liner notes

  1   African Village/Bedford Stuyvesant  (Weston)
  2   Tangier Bay
  (Weston)
  3   Blues to Africa
  (Weston)
  4   Kasbah Kids
  (Weston)
  5   Uhuru Kwanza
  (Weston)
  6   The Call
  (Weston)
  7   Kucheza Blues
  (Weston)
  8   Sahel
  (Weston)
 


BLUES TO AFRICA


1974, the year of Randy Weston's debut in Europe, audiences in France, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Spain were treated to an expose of Afro-American music, played in Randy's own powerful style. Musically and historically, Randy has always had a strong African influence in his music; he refers to it as being African Rhythms rather than the more popular description jazz.

Randy was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He was a member of "The Club" which thrived there in the fifties; it was the home of such notables as Max Roach, Cecil Payne and Duke Jordan. ''The Club" was a non-organized group of musicians who wanted to make some changes to the business, relating to attitudes to the musicians and their music. Their basic aim was to rescue Black Music from the "finger snapping, freaked out" category that it had always been put into by society; they read, talked and listened to theories pertaining to their music and heritage. They began a fight for dignity and free expression in which they are to this day involved.

In 1961 Randy made his first trip to Africa by way of a Festival aimed at exchanging Black American ideas and music with those of the African. This ten day event took place in Lagos, Nigeria and was the scene of performances by Nina Simone, Brock Peters and
Langston Hughes, amongst others. In 1963 Randy went again to Africa on a lecture tour with the black painter Elton Fox, touring Universities and Schools in Nigeria. Four years later after a fourteen country tour with his sextet in North and West Africa he received an invitation from the people of Morocco and subsequently moved to Tangier with his family for a stay of several years.

Randy has been writing music about Africa since 1955, the year of his first composition entitled Zulu. His recordings of African music have varied in format, from a sextet in African Cookbook, an Orchestra in Tanjah
(for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Performance by a Big Band 1974) and now Blues to Africa, his first in what he hopes will be a series of Solo Piano albums.

In this record,  he has woven a spell;  created a montage of colors and of rhythms  - African rhythms.

African Village/Bedford Stuyvesant Randy was struck by the similarity of Black people, that he could travel all over the world from Brooklyn and still see a face which reminded him of someone he knew or had seen before. The feeling was the same  -that warmth, that soulful magic and drama re-enacted all over the world. So African Village is that smiling, soulful, woman in Dakar or Bedford Stuyvesant saying ''Good morning", no matter who you are....

Tangier Bay was written by Randy in 1970, in praise of the beauty of the city of Tangiers, and its bay. The house where Randy lived at that time boasted a tower, and sat on a hill. It was from there that Randy used to sit whenever he could and watch the sun come up over the city. ''The colors were so brilliant, it was like a movie'' said Randy. So, the music in Tangier Bay paints a picture of the Medina, the beaches with shiny white sand and the bay itself.

Blues To Africa was arranged by Melba Liston. Melba and Randy have a lot of history together and whenever possible, Randy gets a great deal of enjoyment out of working with Melba (as she did in his album Tanjah). In Blues To Africa, the real subject is not the obvious-the slave markets, the ripping off of a continent, but the history. A lament for all the people dead, ancient tribes lost, a description of the beauty of its people.

Kasbah Kids Randy says ''The kids in Tangier are really fantastic. I have had the experience of seeing children anywhere from eight years old speak five or six languages, and the dialect as well! Whenever I walked in the Kasbah or the Medina, the children were freedom. It was a superb mixture of symphonic instrumentation and African Rhythms.

The Call was first performed by Randy at the Monterey Festival in 1966. It is a spiritual, a signal for unity: for togetherness. Randy felt that when he wrote The Call that it would become his signature, the final note in what he was trying to say in his music. It was his vision that at some point in his career by playing it, he would be joined by other musicians in one everlasting jam....

Kucheza Blues is the final movement of Uhuru Africa. The Kucheza is for the day when freedom has Finally come, when Black people all over the world, Africa, the United States, the Caribbean, South America wherever a black, brown, or beige skin exists, will have their bondage lifted. The party on that day will be rejoicing and dancing!
 

Sahel The Sahel is an area of Africa which is always saying, "Hey Man, what's happening! Or give me some skin. . . ." Randy's expertise in playing the piano is obvious in this tune as he plays fast and well, the double melody.

Uhuru Kwanza (Freedom): a composition of Randy's that was part of his very first suite called Uhuru Afrika. Kwanza is the first movement and it means for the African people Freedom. Uhuru Afrika was presented by Randy at the Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City, February 1973 as the climax to Black History Week. Uhuru was performed with the New World Symphony Orchestra, and several musicians that Randy picked in order to keep the feeling of undergoing extreme famine and drought; millions of people have died and will continue to do so if help is not soon incoming. In October 1973 Randy along with several interested artists and clergymen formed a committee to raise money for the people of the Sahel. Because they were Africans and because they were creative they decided to give a concert and allow other performers to contribute; this was done one Sunday at the Church of St John The Divine in New York City. So Randy writes this music to remember and remind those who know and are of the Sahel that it desperately needs help.

The music of Blues To Africa and Randy's imaginative and sensitive style as a pianist make his first solo album a really memorable and moving experience.
 

1975  Cheryll Weston
 

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