COMPOSERS: Melba Liston,Randy Weston
WORKS: Volcano Blues
PERFORMER: Randy Weston/Melba Liston Randy Weston (pno); Wallace Roney (t); Benny Powell (trb); Talib Kibwe (as, ss, flute); Teddy Edwards (ts); Hamiett Blueitt (bs); Ted Dunbar (g); Jamil Nasser (b); Charlie Persip (d); Obo Addy (per); Neil Clarke (per); Johnny Cop
CATALOGUE NO: 519 269-2
When the gangling American pianist Randy Weston came to London earlier this year, he brought with his quintet a troupe of Gnaoua musicians from Morocco who play traditional percussion. The resulting sound provided a rich taste of what the atmosphere in Weston’s nightclub in Tangiers in the Sixties must have been like. This new disc links the percussive pianist’s affair with the exotic to his first love, the blues, by way of Basie-type big band momentum.
Arranged by long-time partner, Melba Liston, 13 tracks of concentrated blue pleasure swing effortlessly under the leadership of Weston’s pungent lines, the weighty horn section – soprano to baritone saxes – sliding majestically over a rhythm section which at times includes African percussion. From the raw voices and guitar of ‘Blue Mood’, via the intense North African tradition of ‘Chalabati’ to his own touching tribute to Ellington’s sideman, Billy Strayhorn, in ‘Blues for Strayhorn’, Weston explores the dark deep roots of jazz music in a way that only someone so steeped and devoted to the tradition could. Garry Booth