T.K. Blue Honors Randy Weston with New Album The Rhythms Continue
out November 1st on JAJA Records
Composer, educator, bandleader and consummate saxophonist T.K. Blue is proud to announce his upcoming release, The Rhythms Continue. This new suite, which will be released on November 1st on JAJA Records, is dedicated to the memory of T.K’s long-time band-leader and mentor NEA Jazz Master Dr. Randy Weston who passed away in September of 2018. Made up of compositions by T.K. Blue, Melba Liston and Randy Weston, The Rhythms Continue features an ensemble of ten musicians who are well-versed in the African Rhythms, jazz sensibility and passionate intensity that is hallmark to the compositions of master Randy Weston. Aside from arranging each of these compositions, band leader T.K Blue performs alto and soprano saxophone, flute, kalimba, sanza, lukembi and mbira on these recordings. The rhythm section is made up of the exceptional Alex Blake on bass and master percussionist Neil Clarke on percussion (together with Weston, these two made up Randy Weston’s Trio) with in-demand recording artist Vince Ector on drums. Billy Harper appears on tenor saxophone and Min Xiao Fen performs the chinese pipa, a traditional lute-like instrument. Weston’s vacant piano bench was filled, on this recording, by four young pianists who each bring a uniquely original feel to this dedication to the great piano legend: Sharp Radway, Mike King, Keith Brown and Kelly Green. The ensemble will celebrate the release of The Rhythms Continue with a performance at Minton’s Playhouse, produced by Jazzmobile Inc, on October 31st. Sets will be at 7:30 and 9:30, and the performance is free and open to the public.
Dr. Randy Weston was an artist that can be described by several names: NEA jazz master, America’s African Music Ambassador, and Baba. Baba, an African honorific meaning “father” seems the most appropriate title for Mr. Weston to have, as Randy Weston’s music certainly fathered a spiritual awakening within the jazz idiom that traced the art-form back to its African roots, inspiring many African-Americans to assert their heritage amidst a climate of racial and social unrest. T.K. Blue, performed in Weston’s African Rhythms band for thirty-eight years, for most of which he was musical director. T.K. says “Words cannot adequately express my admiration, love, and respect for such an incredible human being, who exuded generosity and altruism beyond measure. He enriched my life and enhanced my awareness of the magnificent legacy of the African aesthetic via its music and culture. The Rhythms Continue is my humble offering to say thank you for being a mentor, elder, and teacher by sharing your infinite wisdom, and giving all of us pride in knowing who we are and valuing the brilliant cultural legacy of Africa that sustains and nourishes our existence.”
The first track on the album, “Kasbah 330A”, starts the album off at a bright-tempoed swing. This blues was dedicated to dedicated to Randy’s home on Lafayette Ave in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. To the artist, this apartment was like a shrine “complete with a vast library of books on Africa, the African diaspora, and African-American history, culture, and music.” Track three on the album entitled “Going to the East” is dedicated to the very first time that the composer heard Randy perform, T.K. recalls being “overwhelmed by his musicianship, his mastery of pianistic improvisational forays, his compositions, and most of all his intense musical symmetry with his son. They both knew exactly where the other was heading musically, and they complimented each other in such a profound and spiritual way.” This piece seems to embody some of that musical symmetry with the intensely rhythmic and yet synchronized comping of the stunning rhythm section creating the perfect underlying structure for the soloists to improvise over.
Track six, Insomnia, was penned by Melba Liston, Weston’s long-time arranger. According to T.K. “It’s difficult to speak about Dr. Weston without acknowledging the trailblazing Melba Liston, his chief arranger. They shared a profound relationship similar to that of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.” Liston, who passed away in 1999 was the first woman trombonist to play in jazz big bands from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. The final piece to the suite is titled “World 3: The Last Goodbye.” The delicate melody and instrumentation of this composition reflect the tender last moments that composer T.K Blue spent with his dear friend and mentor Randy Weston. Regarding Weston’s life, T.K said “I will always cherish the love, warmth, generosity, and musical experiences we shared. The dignity and pride he exhibited will be my guiding light. Baba Randy lives on in myself, and many others. The world is a better place because of his life and legacy.”
More about T.K. Blue:
T.K. Blue (Saxophonist/Flautist): composer, educator, bandleader and former musical director and arranger for NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston. T.K. Blue appears on over eighty recordings and has performed with such artists as Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sam Rivers, Archie Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Melba Liston, Chico Hamilton, Stefon Harris, Regina Carter, Bobby McFerrin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Scott, Jayne Cortez, Benny Powell, Mal Waldron, Winard Harper, Warren Wolf, Gregoire Maret, Allan Harris, Candido Camera, Bobby Sanabria, Steve Turre, Arturo O’Farrill, David Murray and Hale Smith to name just a few. In May 2017, T.K. released Amour, his 11th CD, cited as one of the best jazz recordings of the year by DownBeat Magazine (four stars). Deeply indebted to organizations such as Jazzmobile, Jazz-interactions, Henry Street Settlement, and the Muse for his own jazz studies, T.K. has remained committed to music education from pre-K to the university level. In addition Professor Blue has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from NYU, with a major in Music and Psychology, and a Master’s in Music Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. He has taught at Suffolk Community College, Montclair State University, and Long Island University where he was also the Director of Jazz Studies from 2007 to 2014. In 2007, T.K was commissioned by NYSCA and Transart Inc. to compose a work dedicated to the early African American presence in the Hudson Valley area of upstate New York. He released Follow the North Star, a suite based on the life of Solomon Northup and his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave.
Having lived close to ten years in Paris, T.K. Blue was hired by the USIA and his band embarked on three State Department Tours of Africa. He currently resides in Jersey City, New Jersey and continues to perform, teach privately, and engage in clinics and adjudication.
Lastly, from September to December in 2018, T.K. Blue was a principal feature on alto saxophone for a N.Y. Lottery Television Commercial in heavy rotation throughout the tri-state area. The commercial was filmed at the Jazz Standard in NYC.