Text by By Dawoud Kringle
On 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.
Congratulations to the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats on their successful trip. Truly an unforgettable experience!
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.
ALJO…The Power of Activism and Jazz: Resisting an Oppressive National Political Culture
On 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.
Dawoud Kringle reviewing Cecil Taylor’s life and career
On 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
Greetings Dear Supporters,
November is when is we at l’École Fula Flute reach out for your help to continue our music education work in Guinea. In the next few weeks we will be sending many communications about what we do, where we come from, and where we want to go.
Thanks to your help, last year we could leave the streets and bring our activities to an ideal place with a large enclosed courtyard. Now it is humming with activity from morning to night, and six days-a-week classes in French, arithmetic, social sciences, theatre and music are happening there. Our dedicated students often perform plays and concerts for the community and official events (such as the Presidential inauguration). Also, beyond the benefits of the education that our students receive, we contribute jobs for artists, educators, administrators and support personnel, we purchase goods and services, and are anchoring a respectable institution, beneficial to the community.
During this month we will also be presenting our achievements at two fundraising events: Continue reading