International jazz legend Randy Weston at York tomorrow

Legendary jazz artist Randy Weston takes centre stage at York University’s Tribute Communities Recital Hall tomorrow, Feb. 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 University. Weston will also give a free, public artist’s talk and Q-&-A on Feb. 13 at 1:30pm preceding his concert.

Left: Randy Weston

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, Weston is a three-time winner of DownBeat magazine’s Composer of the Year award. Performance highlights in the past decade include his "Tribute to James Reese Europe" at the Harlem Stage in New York City; 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 Jazz 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 African motherland, immersing himself in the cultural traditions of many African nations. He cites as a defining moment in this exploration, the 1977 Nigerian festival that brought together artists from 60 cultures.

"At the end," Weston said on his Web site, "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."

With more than 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 Street and Finch Avenue. Throughout February, performances, workshops, artist talks, school visits and community events serve as a catalyst to bring the University and community together to celebrate and engage with African and African Diasporic arts and culture.

Performing Diaspora 2009 is produced and presented by The Harriet Tubman Institute in partnership with the Faculty of Fine Arts and Faculty of Education and with sponsorship from the Tubman Social Justice Fund, Department of Dance, Department of Music, Fine Arts Student and Academic Services, Office of the Vice President Research & Innovation and Founders College. Additional supporters include the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and York University-TD Community Engagement Centre as well as the Faculty of Arts, Stong College, Winters College, Winters College Student Council, York University, Batuki Music, Small World Music and the African Dance Ensemble.

For more information on other events, visit the Performing Diaspora 2009 Web page on The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples Web site.

Tickets to Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Solo Piano Concert are $40 or $25 for students and seniors and are available from the York University Box Office Web site or by calling ext. 55888. Admission to the artist’s talk and Q-&-A with Weston taking place at 1:30pm on Feb. 13, is free.