Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

A Conversation with Randy Weston

The African connection

Randy Weston (l.) and Billy Harper
Randy Weston recording session with Melba Liston and Freddie Hubbard
Randy Weston

On April 6, NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston will turn 90. For most of his years, the pianist has explored the relationship between traditional African music and jazz. JazzTimes caught up with Weston shortly after he returned from the 2016 Panama Jazz Festival, which was dedicated to him.

What first drew you to African music?
Randy Weston: My dad said that Africa is the first civilization on the planet. All civilizations come out of Africa. We are African people in the Americas and we have to study the history of the African civilizations. The whole human race comes from Africa. Everybody on the planet’s got African blood. It’s a big secret, but once that comes out we might be a little better. We’re all related to each other. All you’re gonna get about Africa [in the schools] is colonialism and slavery; up until today, it’s still the same thing. My dad had me read about ancient civilizations when I was a kid; he kept books in the house. And he made me take piano lessons. He was the key; he was the guy.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published