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Like Ellington and Monk together, pianist Randy Weston blends beautiful harmony with plenty of surprises. His impressionistic album comes after intensive studies of ancient rhythms from around the world. Gathering from the spiritual or ritualistic to enjoyable jazz grooves, Weston surrounds traditional Chinese and African scenes with familiar images. His band is such that it can sound spare or huge. On "Portrait of Cheikh Anta Diop," the leader gets everyone involved in a big band affair with unusual intensity. Weston lived in Morocco for five years and has spent much of his life exploring the roots of African music along with their connection to the rest of the world.
Highly recommended, Weston’s project places the spotlight on a superb group of artists. Talib Kibwe’s Moroccan flute solo on "The Shrine" brings the bolero-like piece into focus, while Min Xiao Fen’s pipa (Chinese lute) works in duo on "The Shang" with Weston’s piano for a traditional affair. Pharoah Sanders’ saxophone is primed and ready; his lyrical tenor tone colors most of the session rather well. Weston and bassist Alex Blake interact on Melba Liston’s arrangement of "Boram Xam Xam" with creative prowess. In Randy Weston’s book, music is the universal language.
Track Listing: Creation; Anu Anu; The Shrine; The Shang; Prayer Blues; Boram Xam Xam; Portrait of Cheikh Anta Diop; Niger Mambo; Mystery of Love.Collective
Personnel: Randy Weston- piano; Alex Blake- double bass; Victor Lewis- drums; Chief Bey- vocals, Ashiko drums; Neil Clark- congas, djembe, African percussion, gong, shekere; Talib Kibwe- alto saxophone, flute; Benny Powell- trombone; Pharoah Sanders- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Min Xiao Fen- pipa and gong on "The Shang," pipa on "Portrait of Cheikh Anta Diop."