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Randy Weston: Solo, Duo and Trio

Several recent Fantasy reissues combine two LP’s on one CD to bring highly desirable music back into circulation. Topping the list is Randy Weston’s Solo, Duo & Trio, which contains the LP by that title and Randy Weston Plays Cole Porter in a Modern Mood. This music was last available on the two LP set called Zulu, and contains some of Weston’s best early work. He certainly evolved from this point as an artist: a series of mid-’70s outings stand among the greatest solo jazz piano records ever, revealing a completely personal stylist at the height of his powers. By contrast, the young Weston was heavily influenced by Thelonious Monk, though even on this debut date he had figured out how to use aspects of Monk’s approach to his own ends. The influence is more apparent on his arranging than of his compositional style, some early examples of which are heard here. Art Blakey appears on a few tracks, and the bassist is Sam Gill, whose own beautiful “Solemn Meditation” receives the first of several readings the pianist would give it over the years. Not all of Weston’s recordings are great (though only a couple are really disappointing), but his best are indispensable, and Solo, Duo & Trio comes close to that category.

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