The Equinox Music Festival announced yesterday that they will issue the first Equinox Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, on June 14th, to pianist Randy Weston, as he debuts the Equinox Summer Series, Keys of the City, at the Strand Theatre with a solo performance.
After contributing four decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remains one of the world’s foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary. Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, his global creations musically continue to inform and inspire.
"Randy Weston's legacy is one of outstanding achievement, accomplishment and contribution to and in music that is commonly called "jazz", and/or African American Music and/or creative improvisational music", offered Equinox Vice-President, Dr. Leonard Brown. "He has brought the aesthetics and spiritual qualities of various African music into his compositions, musical ensembles and performances. Steeped in the pianistic traditions of Ellington, Tatum and Monk, Weston derived his own stylistic concepts and approaches and is recognized as a contemporary master of the piano."
Randy Weston, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926, didn't have to travel far to hear the early jazz giants that were to influence him. Though Weston cites Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, and of course, Duke Ellington as his other piano heroes, it was Monk who had the greatest impact. "He was the most original I ever heard," Weston remembers. "He played like they must have played in Egypt 5000 years ago."
The Keys of the City series is the new Summer program of the Equinox Music Festival, and the debut event of the new Equinox Strand Theatre Partnership. The Strand Theatre is the Official Venue of the Equinox Music Festival and the Official Home of the Boston Jazz Repertory Orchestra. The opening program, with Weston in solo performance, is also a fundraising benefit event for the Strand Renovation Project and the Equinox Educational Outreach Program.
Following a pre-concert reception in Weston’s honor, the Boston Jazz Repertory Orchestra, led by Carl Atkins and Bill Lowe, will offer a music tribute to Weston, using music written for big band by Weston. This performance will mark the debut of the BJRO in their new, official home.
The Keys of the City series will continue, through June, July and August, with the appearances of Yasko Kubota and the PowerJazz Trio (June 25th), the Rollins Ross Trio (July 9th), the Lazlo Gardony Trio, with John Lockwood and Yoron Israel (July 23rd), the Frank Wilkins Trio (August 6th) and finishes with the George W. Russell Trio (August 20th).