The Randy Weston Collection

In 2015–16, the Jazz Research Initiative in collaboration with the Hutchins Center, Loeb Music Library, the Harvard College Library, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences acquired the archives of pianist and composer Randy Weston. A pianist of powerful intensity and originality, Weston emerged from a thriving musical scene in 1950s Brooklyn, which included Max Roach, George Russell, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Al Harewood, and Miles Davis. Weston also played a leading role in raising awareness of Africa in the jazz world through his State Department sponsored visits.

Weston’s archive offers a rare glimpse into the world of the artist, an ambassador, and a businessman. The documentation of Weston’s life comes in all forms and from every period of his prolific career, creating a study in both the cultural history of America in the mid-1950s and the inner workings of a musical master. The impressively comprehensive archive contains hundreds of manuscripts, scores, videos, films, photographs, and more than 1,000 tape recordings.

Highlights of the Randy Weston Collection include:
• Correspondence with Langston Hughes and Alvin Ailey
• Scores of Weston’s works, including the Uhuru Afrika from 1960 Recordings of Lincoln Center Jazz with the Randy Weston Orchestra and Randy Weston and the Boston Pops
• Photographs with Dizzy Gillespie, Pharaoh Sanders, Muhammad Ali, and Cornel West
• Records of of the African Rhythms Club, which he operated in Tangier, Morocco from 1967–1972.
• Drafts of a criticism of the lack of jazz music included during the 1963 March on Washington
• A program from a 1963 Banquet with Martin Luther King, Jr., signed by MLK Jr. and 8 other guests at the dinner

Watch Celebrating Randy Weston’s Archive at Harvard (November 9th, 2016)

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