“A musician is a storyteller and healer, he makes music for a baby being born, music for harvesting. African music is rooted in the sounds of Mother Nature, of wind and bird songs and animal sounds.” Born and raised in Brooklyn in the 1920s and 1930s, Randy Weston was not only influenced by the jazz music that surrounded him, but also by his parents, who viewed their great love for their African origins and culture as a significant part of his upbringing.
In the late 1960s, Randy Weston—at the time already an established jazz giant—left the United States to live in Africa, thereby building a bridge between Africa’s cultural roots and influence and the USA, which in turn was reflected in his music. “In African music,” Randy Weston said in a 1998 interview, “there aren't the categories of the past, the present and the future. Music is a timeless thing.”
Weston dismantles the conventional, known categories of traditional and modern, composition and improvisation. He is assisted by his Bösendorfer grand piano, which in his hands is transformed into a medium for his stories. “If you look at the piano, inside is a harp. A harp is one of the oldest African instruments,” Weston explains. “When I touch the piano, it becomes an African instrument. It's no longer a European instrument. I say that in a positive way, not a negative way.”