Jazz pianist Randy Weston is dead

Friday, September 07, 2018

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When renowned jazz pianist Randy Weston performed on the lawns of Devon House in St Andrew for International Jazz Day on April 30, little did anyone know it would have been his first and last performance in Jamaica.

The lanky American — six feet seven inches — died at his home in Brooklyn, New York, last Saturday. He was 92 years old.

Randolph Edward Weston was born in Brooklyn on April 6, 1926, to parents who separated when he was a boy. They, however, required him to take piano lessons at a young age. His father was Panamanian with Jamaican ancestry and was a supporter of the Pan-African message of Marcus Garvey.

His musical style was heavily influenced by the music of Africa, and delivered it with a distinctively percussive style of piano playing.

“I went on a spiritual trip back home,” Weston explained to DownBeat magazine in 1998. “I wanted to hear where I came from, why I play like I play, why we play music like we do. We went to about 18 countries and, wherever we went, we asked to experience the traditional music of the people. Hearing the traditional music was like hearing jazz and blues and the black church all at the same time,” said Weston 

Weston's performance in Jamaica was facilitated by the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and staged as part of the global annual observance.

— Richard Johnson

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