Category Archives: NY Musicians

News From L’Ecole Fula Flute (Guinea) by Sylvain Leroux

My dear MFM Family and MFM supporters,

It’s November, and once again, I appeal to you to support our school for another year.

Thanks to your help, we have come a long way from our humble beginnings in a public hangar to our now secure house and courtyard which is every day humming with activity.

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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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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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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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Cecil Taylor: A lifetime of the Relentless Pursuit of Beauty

Dawoud Kringle reviewing Cecil Taylor’s life and career

Cecil TaylorOn Thursday, April 5th, 2018, one of the most original and innovative pianists of our time, Cecil Taylor, died of natural causes at his home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn at the age of 89.

Taylor was classically trained, and valued European music for what he called its qualities of “construction” — form, timbre, tone color. He brilliantly incorporated them into his own jazz and blues based aesthetic. He once told jazz critic Nat Hentoff “I am not afraid of European influences. The point is to use them, as Ellington did, as part of my life as an American Negro.” Continue reading