Randy Weston's 80th Birthday

651 ARTS celebrates the opening of their season with the 80th birthday of Brooklyn native, legendary jazz composer/pianist Randy Weston, January 12 and 14, 2006 at Long Island University’s Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts.

Weston’s 80th birthday celebration will be two-fold: January 12th will be an evening with the incomparable Weston on solo piano. January 14th, “The Spirit of Afrika, ” will be an evening with a stage full of jazz greats that include: T. K Blue and Benny Powell and more surprise guests. This very special event gives acknowledgement to Weston’s five decades of contributing musical direction and genius which began in 1955 with the recording of Cole Porter in a Modern Mood, to his latest recording Ancient Future (Mutable Music). Says Weston, “Ancient Future is a meditation on music's origins. I thought about Osiris, when he was assigned to teach man about civilization and [how] he used music to do it.”

651 ARTS’ Interim Executive Director, Georgiana Pickett who after increasing programming in dance, music and theater in only her second year, has solidified a long-term relationship with the Kumble Theater where most of 651 ARTS’ performances will take place. Pickett affirms “I thought it was appropriate to inaugurate our presence in a new Brooklyn venue with a focus on Brooklyn artists. Music has taken Weston around the globe- and he is committed to exchanging musical ideas among many cultures. We are proud to have him as one of Brooklyn’s world ambassadors.”

Brooklyn-born Randy Weston is one of the world’s foremost pianists today, a true cultural ambassador, innovator and visionary. He is both a riveting soloist and a dynamic leader of small groups and large, whose performance career, spanning half a century, has taken him to over forty countries throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas. He is also a prolific composer, many of whose works—such as Little Niles, Hi-fly and Berkshire Blues—are jazz classics, recorded by top artists. He is particularly acclaimed for his collaboration with the Gnawa, the traditional Black musicians of Morocco. The culmination of Weston’s rich musical offerings has resulted in the following awards: America Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana (ACRAG) and Black Music Star Award. He was honored by Harvard University, received The French Order Of Arts And Letters, and The Montreal Jazz Festival gave him a five-night tribute. Weston won Composer Of The Year from Downbeat Magazine in 1999 and 1996.

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