To say that Randy Weston was underappreciated is not the same as saying he wasn’t appreciated; instead, it’s to acknowledge that the honors he received, which include being named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master, never quite matched the enormity of his achievements in connecting jazz to its African roots. The Rhythms Continue is alto saxophonist T.K. Blue’s attempt to rectify that by offering a strongly Afrocentric tribute to the late pianist’s legacy.
Blue’s link to Weston is strong, as he played in Weston’s African Rhythms band for 38 years, largely as music director. And it’s not just him. In addition to recruiting the bassist and drummer from Weston’s trio (Alex Blake and Neil Clarke, respectively), Blue brings in tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, who recorded a memorable duet album, The Roots of the Blues, with Weston in 2013, and pipa master Min-Xiao Fen, who was featured on 2017’s The African Nubian Suite. It’s quite an ensemble.