Randy Weston

Ancient Future

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Thomas Buckner launched the record label Mutable Music in 2000 to release new music by himself and his friends and to reissue the catalog of 1750 Arch Records, his previous label from the 1980s. This two-CD set by Randy Weston combines the two, attaching the pianist's 1984 solo LP, Blue (African Rhythms), to the brand-new session Ancient Future. More than a two-fer, the set brings to light the man's evolution, his change of perspective, too. Ancient Future was recorded in June 2001. The sound quality is exemplary. Weston's playing remains mostly introspective, shining in ballads like "Ballad for T.," "Roots of the Nile," and "Body and Soul" (yes, the "Body and Soul," but here given a different reading as Weston uses the melody to tie a knot around his fingers). His study of African music has been so fully integrated one hardly notices it per se, while his love for bop seems to resurface. A contemplative album, it can feel too immersed in itself at times. The contrast with the opening stabs of "Penny Packer Blues," the first track on Blue (African Rhythms), is stunning. On this number and a couple more, the playing is vivid, even excessive. Dissonances abound, the speed of the fingers occasionally pars Cecil Taylor. The two CDs complete each other well, making a good album from a lesser-known figure of post-bop jazz and a much "straighter" release than usual from Mutable Music.

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