I’ll never forget my meeting with Randy Weston in late-July, 1957. He was employed at the Avalon Restaurant Hotel in Lenox, MA. At the time, I was a student at the Lenox School of Jazz, my first of the four summers.
ll always remember Randy’s spiritual and musical guidance. I only had four lessons with him at the most, but I remember we looked at his written music, talked about rhythm, the essence of life, the need for kindness… About that time, he released a 10-inch LP for Riverside on the music of Cole Porter and he seemed well known in the Berkshire community.
One time, I tasted some of the delicious food he cooked. This was either at the Avalon or the Wheatley Music Inn. Throughout the years, we would meet in passing and he would always acknowledge me, and later in life, by first name.
Randy has no bigger fans then two important musicians, Hankus Netsky, co-chair of the Contemporary Improvisation Department at New England Conservatory and Danilo Perez, founder of the Global Jazz Institute for Berklee School of Music. Hankus invited Randy many times as a guest since the departments inception in 1973.
It was an incredible delight and experience to hear Randy’s wonderful collaborations with one of the greatest trombonists, Melba Liston. I’ve also never heard a solo piano concert like what I heard from Randy for the Global Jazz Institute- only a few years ago.
He’s appeared everywhere in Boston, MIT, Berklee, New England Conservatory, RegattaBar, Scullers, etc. and all over New York with marvelous groups. But, to hear him play solo with his array of sounds! His concessive collages where the rhythms of Africa would collide with New York City, and there was always the country and nature. Whether the sounds of crickets in the Berkshires or the beloved sounds of Africa.
He never used ornaments that are gratuitous. They always came from his soul. There is a fantastic clarity, a beat of spirituality, and appreciation of earthly pleasures in his music.
There was no one quite like Randy Weston. He will be deeply missed.