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|Both as performer and composer, Randy Weston is a considerable figure in modern jazz piano, with a highly distinctive style: percussive, decidedly rhythmic, full of charm and encompassing a wide variety of moods. His gifts are much in evidence on this fine CD, which gathers two of his albums from the late 1950s. On the fashionable jazz version of Harold Romes’s Broadway hit, Destry Rides Again, he reveals a particular interest in the melodic beauty of the songs, emerging from the stylized four-trombone ensemble work arranged by Melba Liston to provide what is, in many ways, a rewarding experience.
On Little Niles, in an effective, unpretentious reflection on his childhood impressions, he plays his own compositions, with Melba Liston again doing the arranging on a great album that provides an insightful glimpse into Weston’s waltzfilled world. Throughout, his playing shows a rare combination of strength and gentleness, in an ebb and flow of sound as fluid and natural as the waves of the sea.
Personnel on #1-11:
Bennie Green, Slide Hampton, Frank Rehak, Melba Liston (tb), Randy Weston (p), Peck Morrison (b), Elvin Jones (d), Willie Rodriguez (conga).
Compositions by Harold Rome. Recorded in New York City, May 1959
Personnel on #12-18:
Idrees Sulieman (tp on #17), Ray Copeland (tp on all others except on #18), Melba Liston (tb except on #18), Johnny Griffin (ts except on #18), Randy Weston (p), George Joyner (Jamil Nasser) (b) and Charlie Persip (d, tympani on #18). Recorded in New York City, October 1958.
01. We’re Ladies (1:53)
02. I Know Your Kind (2:29)
03. Rose Lovejoy of Paradise Alley (2:29)
04. Anyone Would Love You (3:04)
05. Once Knew a Fella (2:15)
06. Every Once in a While (2:13)
07. Fair Warning (2:50)
08. Are You Ready Gyp Watson? (1:46)
09. That Ring on the Finger (2:08)
10. Once Knew a Fella (2:39)
11. I Say Hello (2:50)
12. Earth Birth (2:52)
13. Little Susan (3:22)
14. Nice Ice (2:55)
15. Little Niles (6:00)
16. Pam’s Waltz (3:13)
17. Babe’s Blues (6:56)
18. Let’s Climb a Hill (5:51)
Total time: 58:40 min
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