International Jazz Legend Randy Weston headlines Performing Diaspora 2009 – Celebrating Black History Month through Dance and Music at York University

“I try to tell stories through music, stories about our heritage, so people can get a deeper understanding of who we are.” – Randy Weston

Legendary jazz artist Randy Weston takes centre stage at York University’s Tribute Communities Recital Hall February 13 with a showcase performance spotlighting his consummate command of the keyboard and his visionary approach to music-making.

Co-presented by the Department of Music, Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Solo Piano Concert is a highlight of Performing Diaspora 2009, the flagship program of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples at York.

Weston will also give a free, public artist’s talk and Q&A on February 13 at 1:30pm preceding his concert.

With a dazzling international career spanning six decades, Weston is at the peak of his power. The composer of such iconic works as Hi-Fly, Little Niles, Berkshire Blues and African Cookbook, he is a three-time winner of Down Beat Magazine’s Composer of the Year. Performance highlights in the past decade include his “Tribute to James Reese Europe” at the Harlem Stage in New York; his quartet performance with the BBC Big Band in London, England; the Pan African Dance Festival in Kigali, Rwanda; a five-night tribute at The Montreal Jazz Festival; the Montreux and Banlieues Bleues festivals; the Nobel Peace Prize Celebration in Alexandria, Egypt; and many more.

The New York City-born Weston is a longtime champion of Africanist culture – an adventurous explorer and exponent of the dynamic intersection of African and American music. Initially shaped by the jazz giants of 20th century America, he subsequently sought out his roots in the ‘motherland’, immersing himself in the cultural traditions of many African nations.

He cites as a defining moment the 1977 Nigerian festival which brought together artists from 60 cultures. “At the end,” Weston said, “we all realized that our music was different but the same, because if you take out the African elements of bossa nova, samba, jazz, blues, you have nothing. To me, it’s Mother Africa’s way of surviving in the new world.” [www.randyweston.com]

With over 40 CDs in his discography and a long list of accolades and awards to his name, Weston continues to tour internationally. He comes to York fresh from engagements in Austria, Hungary and Morocco. Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa infused with the soul of jazz, his boundary-breaking music continues to inform and inspire.

Performing Diaspora 2009 is a celebration of Africanist dance and music at York University and the neighbouring community of University Heights (also known as Black Creek) at Jane and Finch. Throughout February, performances, workshops, artist talks, school visits and community events serve as a catalyst to bring university and community together to celebrate and engage with African and African Diasporic arts and culture.

The Performing Diaspora concert series is produced and presented by the Tubman Institute in partnership with the Faculty of Fine Arts, supported by Winters College Student Council, York University, and Music Africa. The series also features a solo concert by world music icon Ballaké Sissoko Feb. 5 and Rights/Rites of Passage, a West African Drum & Dance Showcase with Malinke masters Billy Nankouma Konaté & Sani Abu Feb. 28.

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Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Solo Piano Concert
When: Fri. Feb. 13 at 8pm
Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, York University, 4700 Keele St. [Map] Admission: $40 | $25 students & seniors
Box Office: 416-736-5888 | ampd.yorku.ca/perform/boxoffice

Artist’s Talk and Q&A with Randy Weston
When: Fri. Feb. 13 at 1:30pm
Where: Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, York University, 4700 Keele Street
Admission: Free

Media contact:
Amy Stewart, Communications, Faculty of Fine Arts, York U
416-650-8469 | amy.stewart@yorku.ca