Randy Weston has long been one of the most compelling and original composers and performers in jazz (as well as a personal favorite). Decades before "world music" became a trendy marketing category, Weston was integrating American bebop with the musical traditions of West Africa to make some of the most spirited and spiritual music in all of jazz.
How High the Moon, drawn from a rare 1956 session, gives listeners a chance to explore Weston's bebop roots. As a young composer and pianist, Weston was strongly influenced by Thelonious Monk. The rollicking opening number, "Loose Wig," bears the strongest Monk stamp, while the elegant, smoothly swinging style of "A Theme for Teddy" suggests that it may be an homage to the great swing pianist Teddy Wilson.
Weston's emerging interest in international music is hinted at by his inclusion of both a Latin-esque number, "My Little Spanish Town," and a calypso tune, "Run Joe." The solid band features occasional Monk cohorts Ahmed-Abdul Malik on bass and Ray Copeland on trumpet, along with Willie Jones on drums and Weston’s longtime sideman Cecil Payne on the alto and baritone saxophones.
Randy Weston fans should certainly find this album a valuable peek at an early stage of his career.