Randy Weston’s African Cookbook released…eventually

9th April 2016

Title: African Cookbook

Label: Pure Pleasure

I wasn’t surprised to hear that this was released in 1972 but that it was recorded earlier. Not the year before, as you might be less than surprised to hear but, get this, 1964! That’s quite a gestation! The problem was that Weston couldn’t find anyone willing to release it. In fact, such was the lack on interest that Weston, a talented pianist, ended up releasing it on his tiny Bakton label before Atlantic took a punt.

The arrangements are largely down the the trumpet player, Ray Copeland while Weston himself was the songwriter. Also on the team was that excellent tenor, Booker Ervin with Vishnu Wood on bass plus Big Black and Sir Harold Murray on percussion while Black adds vocals to Congolese Children in which Weston plays the celeste.

In audiophile terms, all is set fair because this disc has been mastered by the living legend that is Ray Staff, at Air Mastering. Take the vibrant and skippy ditty, Willie’s Tune which has both Copeland and Ervin sounding particular airy in terms of their sonic presence. There’s a brassy nature to their sounds, yes, but there is also so much space in and around their playing that they sound capable of just about anything. Meanwhile, Murray, on percussion provides a stream of delicate treble-induced cymbals that float over the broad soundstage while his drums do that difficult yet subtle thing of sounding powerful yet hollow because, after all, they are. Finally, Weston’s piano is focused and precise, there is no hint so smearing or uncontrollable frequencies to indicate a lack of control on this most difficult of instruments to track.

All in all, this is a detailed, fresh, open and dynamic album. Great content, great mastering. What more could you ask for?

Contact: www.purepleasurerecords.com