ShowDiasporic Music
Broadcast TitleRandy Weston Live
Broadcast Date2010-03-14
Record Date2010-03-14
SummaryNorman (Otis) Richmond a.k.a. Jalali talks live with Randy Weston. Weston recorded his album, “Uhuru Afrika” 50 years ago. The apartheid state of South Africa banned this album because of its title. Uhuru means “freedom” in Swahili, and this term sent chills down the spines of the rulers of the apartheid state. For many years the South African government banned any record or book with the word “freedom” in it. Uhuru was also the term that was used by Dedan Kimathi and the Land and Freedom Army a.k.a. Mau Maus. Gerald Horne, a frequent quest on Diasporic Music has a new volume, “Mau Mau in Harlem? The U.S. and the Liberation of Kenya.” Randy Weston, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926, didn't have to travel far to hear the early jazz giants that were to influence him. Though Weston cites Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, and of course, Duke Ellington as his other piano heroes, it was Thelonious Monk who had the greatest impact. "He was the most original I ever heard," Weston remembers. "He played like they must have played in Egypt 5000 years ago." Randy Weston has never failed to make the connections between African and African-American music. His dedication is due in large part to his father, Frank Edward Weston, who told his son that he was, "an African born in America." "He told me I had to learn about myself and about him and about my grandparents," Weston said in an interview, "and the only way to do it was I'd have to go back to the Motherland one day." In the late 60's, Weston left the country. But instead of moving to Europe like so many of his contemporaries, Weston went to Africa. Though he settled in Morocco, he traveled throughout the continent tasting the musical fruits of other nations. One of his most memorable experiences was the 1977 Nigerian festival, which drew artists from 60 cultures. "At the end," Weston says, "we all realized that our music was different but the same, because if you take out the African elements of bossa nova, samba, jazz, blues, you have nothing.......... To me, it's Mother Africa's way of surviving in the New World." For more information contact Norman Richmond