At 84, Randy is still going strong, after more than a half century of composing and performing. More than 50 CDs and albums in, he still has something to say, as this live recording shows. Set at at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, this set features his African Rhythms Sextet. This was to be the last recorded date featuring trombonist Benny Powell who would pass away not long thereafter.
Randy has been gigging since the 1940s and was in the US Army during World War Two, operated a restaurant, before releasing his first album “Cole Porter In a Modern Mood” in 1954; Down Beat then voted him “New Star Pianist” in its 1955 International Critics' Poll of 1955. Since then, his singular percussive style has continued to evolve. Through it all, he has stressed his belief in “one humanity.” This CD is in conjunction with his biography “African Rhythms,” and it starts off with a piece of history, “Chano Pozo”, which is dedicated to the Cuban musician who performed with Dizzy Gillespie. “African Sunrise”, originally commissioned commissioned for the 1984 Chicago Jazz Festival, is followed by the three-part “African Cookbook Suite.”
Six older compositions round out the CD. Indeed, if there is one criticism one can make of Randy, is that he wrote many of his best compositions, such as “Hi Fly” in the 1950s and 1960s, and that he tends to recycle tunes. Nevertheless, this was the first reunion of this particular group for a decade. There are unlikely to be many more. Think of it as an opportunity to spend time with friends who are obviously having a great time together.