The Jazzcat

Randy Weston and Billy Harper together at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center

by on Nov.24, 2013, under News

The roots, the blues, the earth, the soil, the motherland, the music and the history all are one. Whether you realize it or not, these elements are in the strands of your DNA and as you search deep into the double helix, you will discover the answers become quite clear. The question of rhythm, soul and the vibrations that resonate, automatically firing the synapses of movement, feelings and some deep sense of understanding comes from an intrinsic path that connects you to your ancestors.

As the earth rotates through time and new generations of jazz music continues to intrigue, the origin remains constant and the hues of blues from dues become more relevantly profound in the discovery of the one; that one referring to oneself as we grow and ponder why jazz music and the blues have such as significant meaning in our lives. 

Randy Weston has asked the question, what is music, where do I come from and were my ancestors like me? One way to learn is through various books that talk about the motherland, the other is to actually go, live amongst the people, hear the drum beat on its soil of origin and physically, psychologically and intrinsically connect the notes that make up your symphony. In the quest for truth, answers and self-preservation of musical integrity, Randy returns from Mecca with knowledge that he disseminates through the ivory and onyx.  “The ancestors were in touch with themselves and the universe; the music is the voice of the Creators”.

Click Picture of Randy above to listen to him talk about the music and Mother Africa


The statements are clear and concise with plenty of silence and space to support his-story. Randy has spent a lifetime moving forward yet going back to touch and feel the roots of the flowers, the trees and the branches of knowledge. Wisdom lies in the past and it takes those with inquisitive minds to search and find what’s behind door number 1.

Behind it is a mirror. You find yourself staring at a road and a journey that leads to your own enlightenment. Discovery is what music is all about, 360 degrees of vibrations that resonate within. When you go back to the root, there is the familiar fragrance and the more we learn, the more we become whole and the greater the wisdom to share with others. 

Randy loves the elephant and the rhythm that it walks with, Mother Africa, the land and the place where all of these great species emanate from.  The Blues, either you do or you don’t, either you will or you won’t, but the sonic translation has you feeling that the music is a part of you. As you go back to touch upon the root of the blues, you encompass the spirit, religion, humanity and the mirror.

Ruth Price and the Jazz Bakery once again responsible for making sure Los Angeles continues to be inundated with great performances by the giants in the world of Jazz. Tonight the music takes its time to speak as blues often do. If you did not hear it, it will be repeated. “Music is mysterious, and it is part of Mother Nature which does not stand still, it’s always changing”. That is why after all these years; Randy is still so excited to play it.

“Hi Fly”, a composition where the familiar melody has us dancing in the memory of our minds eye. A motion and emotion picture, that finds us young, smiling as we glide on the yesteryears of love! Coleman Hawkins was on of Randy’s favorites and he loves the sound of the Texas tenor! Billy Harper and Randy got together back in the late 70’s and did a duo performance together. Randy nostalgically remembers how wonderful that was and this has been their first opportunity since then to come together and explore the Blues once again. They perform, “The Healers”, “Blues to Africa”, “Hi-Fly”, “Body and Soul” and “Berkshire Blues”. They each perform solo compositions; on by Billy Harper entitled, “The Art of the Tenor Saxophone” and Randy does, “Little Niles”. Saturated in the Blues, there is a calling, a yearning and the space allows you to hear the music and not just listen.

The blues is a conversation, sometimes with someone else, sometimes with yourself but, the joy always supersedes the pain! These two gentlemen have a way of speaking that makes it sound like it is you who is telling the story and whose emotions are the pallet by which the sound splashes the canvas.

Randy and Billy end the night with “Blue Voices”, a piece based on conversations with the Ghanaian people. The usual suspects come together to fill the audience with love out of respect for a Great Master of the Music, Mr. Randy Weston and Mr. Billy Harper!

LeRoy Downs

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