Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture > Video Oral History Gallery

Video Gallery Cataloging Data: Randy Weston

Location

Schomburg-MIRS



Call #

Sc Visual VRA-199 Service copy. 

Sc Visual VRB-2032 Original of: Sc Visual VRA-199. 



Author

Weston, Randy, interviewee.



Title

Oral history interview with Randy Weston, 10 June 1996 

[videorecording] / interviewer, Larry Ridley.



Imprint

1996.



Description

1 videocassette (1 hr., 3 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.

010300



Note

Title supplied; duration: 2 hr., 5 min.



Credits

Produced and directed by James Briggs Murray.



Note

Weston performs one of his own compositions with interviewer

Larry Ridley on double bass prior to the interview.

         

Recorded on June 10, 1996, at the Schomburg Center for Research

in Black Culture, Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project.



Summary

The oral history interview with Randy Weston, jazz pianist and

composer, begins with Weston on piano and interviewer Larry

Ridley on double bass performing a composition by Weston.

Afterwards Weston describes Louis Armstrong as the first 

improviser, scat singer,and the first to take the message

of music around the planet. Born April 6, 1926 in Brooklyn,

New York, Randy Weston was raised in a musical and

inspirational home. His father (Caribbean born, follower of 

Marcus Garvey) told him at an early age that he was an African

born in America; Weston's mother (Virginia born) saw that he

was in a Black church every Sunday. Weston recalls growing up

in the time of big bands, the beginning of bebop, and in a

period of genius and creativity. This influence steered Weston

into making his own music for his own people he states.



Weston explains his belief that all music comes from  Africa. 

He talks about the musical cultures of Africa and how 

African-Americans have inherited this same musical sense and

spiritual language. He discusses the misconceptions of jazz 

critics and musicologists; expresses his observations on the

lack of support for jazz.  He feels people need to be reminded

that jazz, being both traditional and modern, is the most 

advanced music of the 20th century, thus, African-Americans

must realize how much they have contributed to the world.

 

Weston explains he learned improvisation by mainly listening,

and points out the high level of music he was exposed to of the

1920's, 30's and 40's during his youth. He was an ardent fan of

Coleman Hawkins along with many others. Weston then talks about

his experiences with Sufism, his friendship with Abdul Malik and

exposure to Arab music. He describes hearing Thelonius Monk on 

piano for the first time and how it embodied all he was trying

to do with his own music. He relates a unique experience of

visiting Monk at his home and compares this with an experience

of meeting Professor Shaw, a Sufi master, while in Tangier 

several years later; both were spiritual events, he felt.

Similarily, Weston explains that African-Americans are spiritual

people, this quality manifests itself in their music. He feels 

that the movement of increased interest in people's African 

heritage will help strengthen the African-American people.



Weston concludes the interview by briefly telling about his

extensive travels in Africa (where he lived for seven years), 

Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, Japan, South America, and the

South Pacific. 



Note

Reproduction. Originally produced: New York, N.Y. :Schomburg Center

for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, 1996. 

1 videocassette ; 1/2 in. (MII) VHS.



Use terms

Permission required to cite, quote and reproduce; contact

repository for information.



Biography/History

Randy Weston is a jazz pianist and composer. Born April 6, 1926

in Brooklyn, New York, Weston began playing piano as a youngster.

Partly through his family's influence he has fostered a deep

connection to his African heritage and expresses this through

his music and conversation. He has travelled extensively, 

particularly throughout Africa, and attempts to remind his own

people of how much they have contributed to the world.

Weston continues to perform and record.



Note

Forms part of: Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project.



In

Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project



Subject

Abdul-Malik, Ahmed -- Influence. 

Armstrong, Louis, 1900-1970 -- Influence. 

Hawkins, Coleman, -- Influence. 

Monk, Thelonius -- Influence. 

Weston, Randy -- Interviews. 

Weston, Randy -- Childhood and youth. 

Weston, Randy -- Journeys. 

Afro-American musicians. 

Afro-Americans -- Foreign countries. 

Afro-Americans -- Music -- History and criticism. 

Afro-Americans -- Music -- Influence. 

Jazz -- United States -- History. 

Jazz musicians -- United States -- Interviews. 

Music -- African Influences. 

Pianists -- United States -- Interviews. 

Piano Music (Jazz). 

Sufism -- Influence.



Form/genre

Biographies. 

Interviews.



Additional name

Ridley, Larry, interviewer. 

Weston, Randy Performer. 

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Louis Armstrong

Jazz Oral History Project.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 



Donor

The Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project was funded by the

Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc. 




-->