Monthly Archives: September 2018

Randy Weston, Jazzmaster and Beloved Friend of the Department, transitions at 92

On November 18-20, 2010, The Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies brought together scholars and activists, writers and artists, youth and elders, to mark our 40th year on the UMass Amherst campus, as well as to support the exchange of knowledge about the dynamic Black Power Movement period in which academic Black Studies units like ours were established. The conference, Art & Power in Movement 2010 Conference, drew over 400 participants. One of those who participated was Randy Weston. He did not demand payment commensurate of someone of his stature, he did not require VIP treatment (although we extended to him our best hospitality), and throughout, he was most generous with his time, talent, and brilliance.
Photo of participants in the Plenary Session: Forty Years of Black Music in the Pioneer Valley
with John Bracey (Chair), Glen Siegel, Randy Weston, Terry Jenoure, Frederick Tillis, and Tom Reney.

Dr. Randy WestonMusician also appeared in concert at Bowker Auditorium, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, November 18, 2010, at 8:00 PM.  After seven decades as a professional musician Weston remains one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers, a true innovator and visionary. “Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk,” writes Stanley Crouch. In a career that began in the late 1940s, Weston has criss-crossed the globe connecting the African diaspora through sound. “Mr. Weston is a truth seeker who sees a power in music much greater than all of us,” writes The New York Times.

We send our condolences to the Weston family. Brooklyn born on 4/6/1926, to Garveyites, Frank, a barber and restaurateur from Panama, and Vivian, a domestic worker who grew up in Virginia, he lived a long and accomplished life. When he keynoted our conference in 2010, his book, African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston had just been published. We will miss this jazz master, Africana Studies pioneer, and black power activist. Let us never fail to remember him in word and deed. —Amilcar Shabazz

Important links:

2010 Conference proceedings

2001 NEA Jazz Master 

“Randy Weston, Pianist Who Traced Roots of Jazz to Africa, Dies at 92,” NYT, Giovanni Russonello
Sept. 1, 2018.–click photo above to go to the article–Randy Weston performing in 1963. His playing and composing emphasized the African roots of jazz. Credit: Chuck Stewart