Brooklyn jazz legend honored at book-signing

The leading men: From left, Al Vann, co-founder of Medgar Evers College, with jazz musician Randy Weston, and Rudy Crew, president of Medgar Evers College, at an event honoring Weston’s music at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Legendary jazz musician and composer Randy Weston was honored at his book-signing event where the artist was also praised for his talents and six-decade career, at Medgar Evers College on June 10.

About 200 people came out to celebrate the life of 90-year-old Weston. Guests sat with the musician to watch a short documentary about his life, a performance by a jazz ensemble, and two dance pieces performed by the Afro-Caribbean dance group, “Something Positive, Inc.” The piece was performed to African drums as a tribute to Weston’s aptitude for the continent’s sounds, one performer said.

“He is an icon in this community — a real performer, and he also loves the drum,” said Michael Manswell, creative director of “Something Positive, Inc.” “When we perform, we use live drums for every performance — it was the right thing to do.”

Weston started his jazz career 60 years ago in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He set his style apart from other artists by notably incorporating African rhythms into his music. Throughout his career he traveled internationally, and knew other jazz legends such as Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

The college presented Weston with an Artists of Distinction plaque. Attendees also bought and got signed copies of his autobiography “African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston.”

Some performers say lauding icons while they are living should be a priority, and that is why Manswell performed for Weston.

“He is is 90, and not many of our icons live long — celebrating him was awesome,” said Manswell.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]
Paying the tribute: A solo trumpeter from the Medgar Evers College Jazz Ensemble, serenades Randy Weston and an audience, at an event honoring Weston’s life and music, at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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