Current New School Jazz Artist-in-Residence Randy Weston performs at the 'Symposium in the Drum - From Africa to the New World'
New York, USA - Legendary American jazz standout pianist and composer Randy Weston recently held a special forum called "Symposium in the drum - from Africa to the New World" at the New School in New York. Weston, who is considered one of the greatest visionary pianists and composers of our time by many in the know was born to Jamaican parents. He grew up in a musically-rich Brooklyn community where he mingled with the likes of Max Roach, Cecil Payne, Duke Jordan, Eddie Heywood and Wynton Kelly, to name a few.
Randy Weston who is currently the New School Jazz Artist-in-Residence says that he and many other jazz performers play the piano like a drum: “The drum never left us” he says, referring to the influence of the drum and his African heritage.
Khuent Rose demonstrates the double second steelpan at the symposium held in the Tishman Auditorium at the New School, New York
After contributing seven decades of musical direction and genius, NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston (born April 6, 1926) remains one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers, a true innovator and visionary. Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, his global creations musically continue to inform and inspire.
The Tishman Auditorium at the New School was practically filled to capacity for the event. Even before the event started, attendees could be seen lining up outside the New School on 5th Avenue.
Randy Weston brought in some heavy hitters for the panel discussion and demonstrations. Representing the steelpan instrument among these giants was Brooklyn panist Khuent Rose. He did not disappoint. He clearly won the respect of the audience and masters present with his performance.
Beyond the outstanding presentations, the audience was treated to great storytelling and living history.
The Demonstrators and Presenters...
- Randy Weston, piano
- Alex Blake, bass
- Candido (Cuba), Afro-Cuban drums
- Khuent Rose (Honduras), steel drums
- Bonga (Haiti), Afro-Haitian drums
- Maalem Hassan Ben Jaafar (Morocco), Gnawa percussion
- Marcel Magnat (Guadeloupe), Gwo ka drums
- Lewis Nash (U.S.), drumset, moderator
- Neil Clarke (U.S.), percussion
- With Dr. Joseph Gaines and Dr. Acklyn Lynch
ALEX BLAKE - Dynamic, engrossing, commanding, Alex Blake is a master of two timeless instruments: the double bass, and the electric bass guitar. For over four and a half decades, Blake has been the most sought-after bass player of his generation, requested by artists whose legacies are synonymous with greatness.
CANDIDO is a Cuban-born percussionist (mainly conga and bongo) and the most recorded conga drummer in the history of jazz. He also plays the tres (Cuban mandolin), drumset and acoustic bass. Born April 22, 1921, he has worked in all aspects of popular music from pop, rock, R&B and disco to Afro-Cuban dance music and Latin jazz. He is the first player to develop the techniques to play multiple conga drums, co-ordinated independence and the use of multiple percussion - one player playing a variety of percussion instruments simultaneously.
Bonga (Haiti) plays the Afro-Haitian drums during the “Symposium in the Drum - From Africa to the New World”
Gaston Jean-Baptiste, known as BONGA, is regarded as a master of the Afro Haitian drum, sought-after for his extensive repertoire of pan-African rhythms. A dynamic performer, accompanist, session player and educator, Bongo works on stage, in the recording studio, and in educational settings. He is one of the few drum experts and craftsmen outside of Haiti who continues to build traditional drums using techniques that are centuries old.
LEWIS NASH is an American drummer. According to Modern Drummer magazine, Nash has one of the longest discographies in jazz. and has played on over 400 records by musicians, earning him the honor of being named Jazz’s Most Valuable Player by the magazine in its May 2009 issue. Nash is noted for his adaptability to a vast array of genres, as evidenced by his performances with such different musicians as Tommy Flanagan and Don Pullen.
After the symposium, Khuent Rose interacts with a young attendee entranced with the double second steelpan - Tishman Auditorium at the New School, New York
Growing up ¡n the heart of Caribbean in Brooklyn, KHUENT ROSE was born of Costa Rican and Honduran parentage. Rose is part of the new generation of young steelpan music innovators who are charting an imaginative and successful direction while holding a profound respect and understanding for the titans that have built this distinctive art form.
MARCEL MAGNAT is a master musician from Guadeloupe, an island nation whose musical traditions are deep and rich, and thriving to this day. Gwo ka (“Big drum”) is both a family of hand drums and the music created with them, which is a major part of Guadeloupean folk music. There are seven rhythms in gwo ka, which are embellished by the drummers. Different sizes of drums establish the foundation and its flourishes, with the largest, the boula, playing the central rhythm and the smaller, markeur (or maké) drums embellishes upon it and interplays with the dancers, audience or singer.
Neil Clarke (left) on percussion with Marcel Magnat on Gwo ka drums
Regardless of the musical genre—folkloric, jazz, pop, rhythm and blues, gospel or classical orchestra—percussionist NEIL CLARKE is equally at home. Clarke has enjoyed long- standing relationships with such notable artists as Randy Weston, Harry Belafonte, Onaje Allen Gumbs, Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Miriam Makeba, Paul Winter, the Spirit Ensemble, the late Arthur Prysock, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the International African American Ballet, and many others.
Drs. Acklyn Lynch and Joseph Gaines
DR. ACKLYN LYNCH is a distinguished scholar, activist and expert on international economics. Well versed in politics, history, literature, cultural Diaspora arts, ¡azz and calypso, Dr. Lynch served as Chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The De Facto Professor Emeritus of the community, Dr. Lynch has written numerous articles and is a frequent guest on Pacifica Radio.
DR. JOSEPH GAINES is the chair of the Education Department at Boricua College, and a noted scholar of African and African-American history and culture.
HASSAN BEN JAAFAR who hails from Morocco is a true master of Gnawa music which is a mixture of sub-Saharan African, Berber, and Arabic religious songs and rhythms. Its practice is concentrated in north Africa, mainly Morocco.
Dean, School of Jazz
College of the Performing Arts, The New School
From Africa to the New World: African Rhythms in the Diaspora
Randy Weston, Dr. Joseph Gaines, Dr. Acklyn Lynch
Screening of FOLI: There Is No Movement Without Rhythm
11 min. (2010). A film by Thomas Robbers and FIons Leeuwenberg.
Introduction to the Drums of the Diaspora, with Musical Demonstrations Lewis Nash, moderator
Closing Performance of “Niger Mambo” by Randy Weston
Featuring the FuIl Ensemble
Performance by Mr. Randy Weston and his selected crew...
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