arranger’s Preface
Writing this book with Randy Weston has been a life- altering experience.
How did Randy and I get started down this road? Why an autobiography
as opposed to the more typical great- man biography? How did we arrive at
the “composer- arranger” relationship? The way this journey commenced
rather mirrors the ancestral spirit- driven path that Randy Weston has trav-
eled.
Randy Weston’s music has long been personally stimulating, rewarding,
and revealing, full of images and portrayals both ancient and future, laden
with the raw materials that make great music. Ironically—as you will dis-
cover later from Randy’s recollections of the session he has long considered
his “only hit record”—my immersion in his music began in 1972. Certainly I
knew him from “Little Niles,” “Pam’s Waltz,” and “Hi- Fly,” and as a Monk
devotee, but my knowledge before that pivotal point was still relatively lim-
ited. As a student at Kent State University I frequently climbed in whatever
beater I was driving at the time and headed north on I- 271 to nearby Cleve-
land to a long- gone place called Record Rendezvous downtown on Prospect
Avenue, intrepidly surfing the bins for new LPs to continue my jazz educa-
tion. At the time Creed Taylor’s series of recordings for CTI, with a rotating
stable of exceptional musicians and striking, glossy gatefold packages with
photos by Pete Turner, were laden with the kind of good grooves that were
quite amenable to a college- life soundtrack. So when Randy Weston’s lone
CTI date, Blue Moses, showed up in the bins in ’72 it quickly made its way to
the cash register. With Freddie Hubbard, Grover Washington, Hubert Laws,
Billy Cobham, and Airto along for Randy’s journey, Blue Moses was an irre-
sistible purchase.
Gently applying vinyl disc to turntable, I remember soon being taken
with the haunting quality of the tracks “Ganawa—Blue Moses” and “A
Night in Medina”—that is, after wearing out the grooves on the rambunc-
tious opener “Ifran.” Blue Moses was quickly joined in the collection by
Randy’s even more substantive big- band LP Tanjah (1973), with memorable
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