True jazz buffs will welcome this well-detailed, informative memoir, African Rhythms, by one of the most innovative musicians in America, Randy Weston, for it pays earnest tribute to the African origins, traditions, and their primary influence on the sounds that rose from Congo Square long ago. It is the finest jazz autobiography since that of the big band maestro Duke Ellington’s glorious remembrances, Music Is My Mistress. “Arranged” by jazz writer-producer Willard Jenkins from a collection of interviews and observations over a four year period, it spans over 60 years of Weston’s personal and creative life.
Weston, 85, has his West Indian father to thank for his African cultural consciousness, which was nourished by his immersion in the richness of the Brooklyn jazz scene, the sanctified Black church, the down-home blues, and the lilting calypso from its immigrant neighbors. The pianist learned a deep appreciation of the Mother Country from the works of J.A. Rogers, Alain Locke, Father Divine, and Marcus Garvey, The book conveys some of the magic of those Brooklyn years, detailing the closeness of that black-and-tan community before the advent of the Second World War II. Read Robert Fleming’s complete review of African Rhytms “Composed” by Randy Weston & “Arranged” by Willard Jenkins (Duke University Press Books, Sept. 2010) here: http://aalbc.it/randyweston