The legendary jazz master Randy Weston, a son of Brooklyn, was celebrated with song, dance, and conversation at Medgar Evers College on Friday. Fans of the pianist, composer and lecturer, whose career has spanned over 60 years, came to Founders Auditorium for the evening event. It was preceded by a private reception for Mr. Weston.
â€œIt is hard to put into words what I feel,â€ said a visibly joyful Mr. Weston, who was given a plaque reading â€œArtist of Distinction,â€ etched with the date of June 10, 2016 and the College logo. â€œIâ€™m 90 years old,â€ he added, to sustained applause.
The celebration included a book signing of â€œAfrican Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston,â€ a documentary film about Mr. Weston, and a conversation about his life and art. The audience was also treated to performances by Something Positive Inc., an Afro-Caribbean arts and education organization, and the Medgar Evers College Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Professor Roman Mitchell.
Dr. Clinton Crawford, chair of the Department of Mass Communication, Creative, Performing Arts and Speech at Medgar Evers, held an on-stage conversation with Mr. Weston. During their talk, Mr. Weston stated repeatedly that all music has its origins in Africa.
His connection to the continent began early, he said, and was important at a time of â€œserious, serious racism.â€ Mr. Weston recounted being born in Brooklyn in 1926, with musical influences that included Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach and Coleman Hawkins. â€œAll royalty,â€ Mr. Weston said. He called those artists â€œspiritual human beings who picked us up when we were down.â€