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World Music CD Reviews North American

Randy Weston And His African Rhythms Trio

By Nils Jacobson
Published March 16, 2007

Zep Tepi
Random Chance RCD27

Even if Randy Weston didn’t use the words “African Rhythms” to describe so many of his projects, it would still be pretty clear where he was coming from. The softly lyrical, deeply swinging pianist has made something of a life’s mission out of absorbing those rhythms at their very roots, so to speak. And by rounding up like-minded collaborators, he’s been unbelievably successful in bringing bop and the blues into a holistic, organic coexistence with the music of north and west Africa. Here he revisits the trio format, for the first time in three decades, and dances pretty much all the way through nine original pieces (some quite old) and a cover. Expert drummer Neil Clarke backs him with subtle, three-dimensional swing, while bassist Alex Blake guards the groove with a supple looseness. At age 80, Weston is most definitely at the top of his game.