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Randy Weston and His African Rhythms Sextet: The Storyteller

- CD Reviews

Randy Weston and His African Rhythms Sextet: The Storyteller

Randy Weston on Piano
Alex Blake on Bass
Neil Clarke on Percussion
Talib Kibwe (T.K. Blue) on Flute and Alto Sax
Benny Powell on Trombone
Lewis Nash on Drums

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 24, 2013

This is a rich, cultural fusion of African and American jazz, with a crème de la crème ensemble, including the late Benny Powell on trombone. Click here to read a review of Randy Weston’s sextet, when it appeared at Dizzy’s club Coca-Cola in 2011. This CD was Co-Produced by Randy Weston and Todd Barkan, with production assistance from T.K. Blue, who’s heard on this recording on flute and alto sax. The tracks were recorded live at Dizzy’s in late 2009. A lovely inscription inside this CD, from Todd Barkan to Randy Weston, includes “After every day’s rains, and everybody’s pains, you take us rafting down rivers of ancestral rhythm…”

Notable tracks:

#2 – African Sunrise – Composed by Randy Weston. With Weston’s piano introducing the track, the sextet soon sounds like an orchestra, with T.K. Blue taking the theme early on. Later Weston has enchanting harmonies, backed up by brass and exotic percussion. The piece ends in a dervish of drums.

#4 – Jus’ Blues – Composed by Randy Weston. It’s hard to sit still listening to this track, which is noted as the second movement of “The African Cookbook Suite”, with its bluesy solo by Powell, merging with T.K. Blue’s high warbling sax. Lewis Nash and Neil Clarke are generously featured in intense drum-percussion backup, plus a showcased flourish.

#6 – The Shrine – Composed by Randy Weston. This mesmerizing piece, with T.K. on flute, evoking the jungle fauna, has deep, languorously drawn tempos and an absorbing undersong. Weston has brilliantly composed this and the other tracks with refined and nuanced differentiations.

#10 – Fly Hi – Composed by Randy Weston. This piece, which follows one called “Hi Fly”, features Clarke’s Afro-Cuban percussion in all its horsepower, with vivacious effect. Alex Blake’s bass is always resonant, reinforcing the eclectic compositions, and Nash’s drums add flash and stunning syncopation.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at