Get Happy

Randy Weston

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Get Happy Review

by Jim Todd

This early release from Randy Weston finds the pianist still in his formative stages. His supple technique is evident, along with key influences: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Art Tatum -- their lessons not quite yet melded into an approach of Weston's own. As well, this 1955 date is from the period before Weston's time spent in Nigeria and Northern Africa, where he absorbed musical experiences that would help form the more distinctive approach that emerged in his playing in the 1960s. The set shows Weston's facility with standards, Ellingtonia, even ragtime, but, with several tracks coming in well under four minutes, the performances offer little room for development. The impression here is that of a pianist of great potential limbering up before the curtain rises for the show. The subdued rhythm support of bassist Sam Gill and drummer Wilbert Hogan adds to this effect. The level of interaction between the leader and his rhythm team is not great. The only real exception is the nice dialogue between the pianist and the bassist on the standard "Dark Eyes." Also absent are the writing skills for which Weston would later become known with trademark works such as "Hi-Fly" and "Little Niles." Weston's two originals on Get Happy are unremarkable, riff-based tunes that only reinforce the sense of this session's serving as a promising warm-up for better things to come.

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