This photo of Abdullah El Gourd (with the guembri) and Randy Weston by Junenoire Mitchell comes from the French Institute/Alliance Française, New York. I put it on the JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater web page when we featured Randy Weston and his African Rhythms band onstage at NJPAC in Newark.
Here’s a link to a musical highlight with a long written narrative by me. There was so much to say!
At the time Weston’s great friend and fellow pianist Ray Bryant had just died, so I led with Randy’s memories of Ray, especially how they had performed jazz in 40 elementary schools in New York City in the 1960s.
Pause to imagine their charisma …
Weston’s trombonist Benny Powell had also just died. When you scroll through the JazzSet story, you see photographer Lena Adasheva‘s beautiful photo of him. Is she still shooting jazz?
Finally, Abdullah El Gourd from Morocco and Weston were honored at the World Nomads program at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York, 2011. Hence the photo. I covered this event for this JazzSet and remember El Gourd telling me that — besides playing Gnaouan music — he had long been employed as a technician for Moroccon state radio.
JazzSet aired weekly from 1992-2014. Besides the NJPAC show, we recorded/presented Weston at the Kennedy Center in Washington, on a Bosendorfer piano with a few extra keys on the low end. Randy played those keys! Always his knees came up to key level. He was that tall. I believe that in the 1980s WBGO/NPR recorded a Weston concert for the American Jazz Radio Festival series. This concert might now live at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers in Newark.
Long live Randy Weston! In his words We are all musicians. Our voices are our instruments; our hearts are our drums. Thanks to him for his beautiful life in jazz.