Public Programs And Events

Who Is Randy Weston? A Conversation With Robin D.G. Kelley Plus Performance

Who Is Randy Weston? A Conversation With Robin D.G. Kelley Plus Performance

John L. Tishman Auditorium, University Center
General Public 

The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music is proud to introduce Randy Weston as our first ever Artist-In-Residence, for the academic year '15-'16. Pianist, composer, and bandleader, Randy Weston is one of the world’s most influential jazz musicians, a remarkable innovator and visionary whose career has spanned five continents and more than six decades.

To kick off Weston's residency at the New School, this program will introduce Randy and his long career through a conversation with Robin D.G. Kelley (Professor of American History at UCLA, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, 2009), with piano demonstrations by Randy Weston, and audio and video samples. 

This event is the first of the five major public programs associated with Weston's residency. Future events will feature various aspects of Weston's artistry and his major influences, including traditional Gnawa musicians from Morocco (Oct 13), master drummers from Senegal (Nov 17), as well as a symposium in the African Drum and a major closing concert (both of which will take place in Spring 2016). In each program, Randy Weston will discuss the influence of African music and culture on his own music, and perform with the guest artists. 

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926, to a Jamaican and Panamanian father and a mother from Virginia, Weston didn't have to travel far to hear the early jazz giants that were to influence him. 

Due in large part to his father, Frank Edward Weston (who told his son that he was, "an African born in America”), Africa is at the core of Weston’s music and spirituality. He has traversed the continent on a continuous quest to learn about its musical traditions, produced its first major jazz festival, and lived for years in Morocco, where he opened a popular music venue, the African Rhythms Club, in Tangier.

Weston has forged unique partnerships with Langston Hughes, the musician and arranger Melba Liston, and the jazz scholar Marshall Stearns, as well as his friendships and collaborations with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, the novelist Paul Bowles, the Cuban percussionist Candido Camero, the Ghanaian jazz artist Kofi Ghanaba, the Gnawa musicians of Morocco, and many others.

In October 2010, Duke University Press published African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston, “composed by Randy Weston, arranged by Willard Jenkins". It was hailed as "an important addition to the jazz historiography and a long anticipated read for fans of this giant of African American music, aka jazz."

In recognition of his artistic achievements, Randy Weston has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow; Doris Duke Award; French Order of Arts and Letters; and Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the New England Conservatory and Brooklyn College.


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