April, 2013

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Welcome to the April issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter. This issue’s performance photos, which were taken by jazz critic Ken Weiss, are from the March 23 concert at Symphony Space in New York City that celebrated 40 years of the New England Conservatory’s contemporary improvisation program.

 

Ran’s Reflections

Randy Weston

randyAn adapted version of an e-mail Ran sent out earlier this month encouraging students to attend an April 18 workshop and a performance by Randy Weston at NEC:

There’s no living pianist who has a greater sense of history than Randy Weston.

I first became aware of Randy when I was a student at Bard College, and I picked up a 10-inch LP, Randy Weston Plays Cole Porter In A Modern Mood. I was certain I was hearing a new emerging Monk. Randy reframed so many of the beloved Porter melodies and avoided many of the common ii-V cliches.

A year later I attended my first of four years at Lenox School of Jazz. At that time, Randy was the house pianist at the Avaloch Inn, which was just a half-mile down the road from Wheatleigh. Also known as the “Music Inn,” this was owned by Philip and Stephanie Barber at the time and was a part of the Lenox School of Jazz.

Randy was studying with Dr. Willis Laurence James of Morehouse College and Spelman College. Dr. James was also one of my favorite professors, and I can still hear his field cries. We would walk on the Housatonic River and he would tell us stories of his father, who was a slave. He sang/moaned these cries … I’ve never heard anything like it. My first song on Wende (Owl Records, 1976) is dedicated to him.

At that time, Randy composed two pieces, “Little Niles” and “Hi-Fly,” which became immediate jazz standards that are still studied today.

>>cont’d>>

Upcoming Events

new NYC shows

Ran has added several new dates in June in New York City.

June 14 & 15 — Ran and vocalist Sara Serpa will perform sets at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kitano Hotel in New York City.

June 16 — Ran performs solo at 6 p.m. at Zeb’s in New York City. Presented by Cobi Narita.

With Sarah Jarosz

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With Dominique Eade

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With Christelle Durandy

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Randy Weston

Cont’d.

I’ve followed Randy Weston’s music for a lifetime and have always appreciated it. Even so I was unprepared for two stunning performances that he gave last winter. Randy played dazzling sets of music with harmonic shadings I’ve never heard before. Rhythm, always a strong element, spiralled through gigantic time signatures … I felt I was on a significant journey. The audience was astounded, as was I.

I know your ears will feel joy by attending Randy Weston’s events.

 

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you in May.
–Steve

Vol. 9, No. 4