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The Use of African Music in Jazz From 1926-1964: An Investigation of the Life, Influences, and Music of Randy Weston

Squinobal, Jason John (2007) The Use of African Music in Jazz From 1926-1964: An Investigation of the Life, Influences, and Music of Randy Weston. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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There have been many jazz musicians who have utilized traditional African music in their music. Randy Weston was not the first musician to do so, however he was chosen for this thesis because his experiences, influences, and music clearly demonstrate the importance traditional African culture has played in his life. Randy Weston was born during the Harlem Renaissance. His parents, who lived in Brooklyn at that time, were influenced by the political views that predominated African American culture. Weston's father, in particular, felt a strong connection to his African heritage and instilled the concept of pan-Africanism and the writings of Marcus Garvey firmly into Randy Weston's consciousness. While his father was a great influence on his early childhood, Duke Ellington, one of the most important musicians of the Harlem Renaissance, also influenced Weston. Ellington reinforced the importance Weston's father placed on knowing their African roots. At the same time, Ellington, a dominant musical figure of the Harlem Renaissance, became an important musical influence on Weston. As Weston grew up, he looked up to the musicians of the bebop revolution. Thelonious Monk, one of the most significant contributors to the bebop revolution, befriended Weston and became a mentor to the young man. In Monk, Weston recognized the spirit of an African master. While Weston learned to interpret music similar to Monk's style, he also developed a keener sense of African aesthetics through his relationship with Monk. Weston took every opportunity to hear and learn about traditional African music. He went to performances, listened to recordings and interacted with African delegates at the United Nations. Weston's interest and research in traditional African music integrated with the growing cultural interest in Africa among the general African American population during the 1950s. The turbulence during this period of intense civil rights activism encouraged Weston's attempts to merge African music with jazz and he composed Uhuru Afrika. All of the above influences helped Randy Weston to be conscious of his heritage. Through his musical output he was able to connect with that heritage in a way that was significant to him.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Squinobal, Jason
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDavis, Nathan Tndavis@pitt.eduNDAVIS
Committee MemberEuba, Akinaeuba@pitt.eduAEUBA
Committee MemberMoe, Ericemoe@pitt.eduEMOE
Date: 28 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 17 April 2007
Approval Date: 28 June 2007
Submission Date: 23 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: African Pianism; Ostinato; Pan-African; Pentatonic; Polyrhythm
Other ID:, etd-04232007-204120
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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