Randy Weston returns to the trio format for the first time in over thirty years with Zep Tepi
. Poised to enter his eighth decade on the planet, Weston is an elder in every sense of the term. His distinctively percussive attack, yard-wide chords, criss-crossing rhythms and idiosyncratic melodies remain sui generis. Both literally (he's 6'9") and figuratively, Weston is a giant of the music.
He pays tribute to his friend and mentor Thelonious Monk on "Ballad for T," a reflective but vinegary solo piano performance that nods to "Ruby, My Dear." Ancestral spirits are afoot throughout, from the Gnawa people of North Africa to the Duke Ellington of Money Jungle. Weston's touch encompasses both the diaphanous and the brawny, particularly on the mesmerizing trio interpretation of "The Healers," a piece also recorded in memorable duo with David Murray on the Black Saint title of the same name from 1979. Dedicated to "the very people who started music in the first place," this evocation of the ancientsthe ancestorsis compassionate power, music-as-medicine, music as an integral part of life rather than art in a frame. Alex Blake (bass) and Neil Clarke (African percussion) are equals in the trio's potently percussive interchange, the three men summoning up all the intricacy and spiritual intensity of an African drum choir.
Some of Weston's older, best-known compositions"Berkshire Blues," "Blue Moses" and "High Fly" among themare included, along with several newer works and the pianist's long-time theme, "Love, The Mystery Of," by Guy Warren. Full of regenerative vigor and transformational essence, Zep Tepi is generosity of spirit conveyed via digital audio. Thank you to the musicians and their ancestors. It's a gift to be learned from and treasured.
Personnel: Randy Weston: piano: Alex Blake: bass: Neil Clarke: African percussion.