Those in the jazz music community would wholeheartedly agree that pianist and composer Randy Weston is a true legend of the genre. In a career that has now spanned over six decades, the Brooklyn musician has been an well-known advocate of African music and culture, especially when it comes to linking those influences to jazz music. Weston has the experience to back that up, having visited 18 African countries and lived in Morocco for a few years. In a 2010 interview, he told me, “I thought it was necessary to document our history because African people, Africa and even African-American traditions are disappearing. How can young people know what happened before? I was lucky to live in Africa and hang out with traditional people and just speak about what music can do and the places that it can take you, how it’s a spiritual force.”
The NEA Jazz Master’s amazing life, going all the way back to his Bed-Stuy roots, is told in his recent autobiography, the aptly-titled African Rhythms. On Sunday, Weston will be at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music to talk about his book with writer Shannon J. Effinger; pianist/composer Sharp Radway will perform a solo concert for the occasion. Then on Tuesday, Weston will be the honoree for the conservatory’s spring gala taking place at the Brooklyn Museum. Whichever event you decide to go to, you are paying tribute to this important jazz and cultural ambassador.
Conversation with NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston will take place on Sunday at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, 58 7th Ave., Brooklyn, 7 pm; the event is free. Weston will also perform on Tuesday as part of the conservatory’s Music Moves spring gala at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, 6 pm; tickets start at $300.