Category Archives: Musicians

Randy Weston Remembered: A Master Musician Who Travelled the Bridge Between Africa and America

Text by By Dawoud Kringle

Randy WestonOn the morning of September 1st, 2018, pianist and composer Randy Weston was called home.

Randy Weston was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. to Vivian (née Moore; a native of Virginia) and Frank Weston (of Jamaican-Panamanian descent, who owned a restaurant in Brooklyn where Weston was raised). His father was a staunch Garveyite, who passed on the Pan-Africanist leader’s Afrocentric, self-reliant values to his son. He became interested in music at a young age. Among his early influences and inspirations were jazz giants such as Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, and Duke Ellington. He would often cite Thelonious Monk as having the greatest impact on him.

After serving in the US armed forces in WW2, taking time to study European classical piano, and later running a restaurant (which was frequented by many jazz musicians), Weston began performing in  the late 1940s with Bullmoose Jackson, Frank Culley and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. He worked with Kenny Dorham in 1953 and in 1954 with Cecil Payne. He formed his own trio and quartet and released his debut recording as a leader in 1954, “Cole Porter in a Modern Mood.” In 1955, Down Beat magazine’s International Critics’ Poll voted him New Star Pianist.

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Rest in Peace, Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin 1942 – 2018

A musical legend, Aretha Franklin has been called to her final rest…

Aretha Franklin

Photo courtesy of by the bright scoop

Text by Dawoud Kringle

The news of Aretha Franklin’s passing came as no shock. It was common knowledge she had been gravely ill for a long time. Just days before her passing, news of her severe illness made international news. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to hear of the passing of this giant without sadness.

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On the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats Trip to Cuba – An Unforgettable Experience

Congratulations to the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats on their successful trip. Truly an unforgettable experience!

Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats

Photography by David Garten

Earlier this Summer, a group of students, parents and supporting staff of the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats went on their first-ever trip to Havana, Cuba, after being invited to participate in an international youth jazz band exchange event.

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The Heroism of Musicians: Stories of Courage and Self Sacrifice By Musicians

Text by Dawoud Kringle

When we think about heroes and musicians in the same context, we picture the saxophone virtuoso playing intricate jazz improvisations, the gunslinger rock guitarist, or the beautiful precision of a classical pianist. Or perhaps we have the image of a musician whose music holds a special place in our hearts. But musicians are humans, and humans have been known to perform acts of great heroism and nobility. Here are a few anecdotes of note.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis helped a baby with breathing difficulties during a recording of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. A woman came out of her house saying that her baby can’t breathe. Kiedis performed CPR, and started rubbing the baby’s belly. When the ambulance arrived, Kiedis handed the baby to the EMTs, who soon determined that the baby was breathing and would be fine.

The Heroism of MusiciansIn 2000, a bushfire tore through grasslands near country singer Garth Brooks’ in-laws’ home in rural Oklahoma. Brooks evacuated two boys from a nearby house, driving them through thick smoke to safety. He then stopped to push the family’s boat out of a barn that was threatened by the fire.

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Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) West Coast Tour

ALJO…The Power of Activism and Jazz: Resisting an Oppressive National Political Culture

Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz OrchestraOn Wednesday May 9, Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra kicked off a special five-city tour of California celebrating the power of activism and jazz in resistance to the oppressive national political culture currently taking shape in America..

Arturo O’Farrill and ALJO invited diverse communities throughout California to partake in their revolutionary musical movement propelled by the orchestra’s fiery big band compositions. Beginning on May 9, Stanford Live presented the West Coast debut of O’Farrill’s The Cornel West Concerto at Stanford University featuring Dr. Cornel West alongside ALJO. On May 12, O’Farrill headlined Radio-Active Resistance: A Benefit for KPFA FM and DACA Support Services with opening acts Bobi Céspedes Band and the Son Jarocho All Stars at UC Theatre in Berkeley, CA. Additional ALJO performances included concerts at Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts (May 11), UC Santa Barbara Arts & Lectures @ Campbell Hall (May 17), and a rare Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble (octet) performance at Bach Dynamite & Dancing Society in Half Moon Bay (May 13).  ALJO concluded its California tour with a live recording on the San Diego – Tijuana border on location at the Fandango Fronterizo Festival, joining together with noted Son Jarocho artists from Veracruz, México, and other special guest artists drawing from various countries and musical genres.

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