randy weston african rhythms sextet  - charlie parker jazz festival, NYC, aug 27

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

Randy Weston African Rhythms Sextet was the most relevant happening on the second day of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.
The beautiful sunny afternoon was perfect for the chants, prayers, and spiritual invocations that have Africa as inspirational center.
On the bandstand with the Brooklynite pianist were his habitual associates in these voyages to the African continent: the entrancing tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, whose in/out concept and rugged timbre have always amazed me; the energetic TK Blue on alto sax and flute; the bassist Alex Blake, whose vehement strumming and tapping had impact on the crowd even when his instrument was facing technical issues; the reliable Lewis Nash on drums, and the percussionist Neil Clarke, who likes to provoke the audience during his extended solo moments.
The sextet played four long tunes, in which the soloists succeeded one another with the same trajectory in mind, also sharing the same vision and impetuousness.
The good vibes spread among the public, which responded in many different ways: dancing, screaming, uttering words of incitement, and shaking their heads and bodies.
The insightful piano introductions engendered by Weston, some of them very Monkish, fall into astonishing grooves that usually gained power when the reedists started intervening.
Weston showed to be generous, and in this group, everybody had enough space to stand out and let the creativity come out.
“African Cookbook”, “African Sunrise”, and “Blue Moses”, all from the acclaimed album “The Spirit of Our Ancestors”, were highlighted pieces of an enchanting evening packed with exuberant vibrations.