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The Roots of the Blues by Randy Weston & Billy Harper

The Roots of the Blues by Randy Weston & Billy Harper

iTunes Review

One for the historically minded jazz fans out there. This duo outing features about 110 years of professional jazz history between pianist Randy Weston (who arrived in the ’50s) and tenor saxophonist Billy Harper (who came along 10 years later). They also have a 40-year relationship of playing together. But the scope of this collaboration reaches well beyond that timeframe to three early jazz standards and on to the origins of blues (and jazz) in Africa. The two spend much of their time working through the blues language with plenty of open-ended improvisation, tossing shapes and ideas at each other. A prime example is the conversational call-and-response of Weston’s “Blues to Senegal,” the soulful “Blues to Africa,” and the rollicking “Cleanhead Blues.” Their loving takes on the standards “Body and Soul,” “Take the A Train,” and “How High the Moon” offer additional inspirational insight when they choose to go outside the blues. The set is rounded out by an intimate solo piece from each of them, making this collection a revelatory portrait and music lesson from these two jazz griots.


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