Long before there was a commercial concept of "world music," Randy Weston sallied forth from his Brooklyn origins and immersed himself in the vast panoply of African cultures, specifically seeking the links between traditional African music and American jazz. What he found resulted in a luminous body of work, both innovative and visionary, based on the spiritual heart they share. As a pianist he was influenced early on by Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and especially Thelonious Monk, and they still resonate in his lush compositions. But Weston's genius lies in that reconciling of jazz with African elements, giving particular prominence to the rhythms, and creating rhapsodic music that's exotically alluring and entwined with the soulful essence of a continent and its tendril spirits. Over the years Weston has played in many different formats and collaborated with a vast array of musicians, from the Gnawas of Morocco (where he's been a longtime resident) to Chinese masters of the pipa. Now in his early 80s, he recently returned to a trio setup for the first time in 30 years. In this rare local appearance, Weston will lead his African Rhythms Trio, which includes bassist Alex Blake and Neil Clarke on percussion. $30 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m.
Mondays, Sundays, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Starts: Feb. 17. Continues through Feb. 18, 2008