The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


Randy Weston On Piano Jazz

Feb 8, 2013
Originally published on April 6, 2015 1:07 pm

Pianist Randy Weston recently returned to Piano Jazz for a new session with host Marian McPartland. Weston got his start playing with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Kenny Dorham in the late 1940s and '50s, and won New Star Pianist in the 1955 Downbeat poll. By the end of that decade, Weston was inspired by the burgeoning civil rights movement in the U.S. and the independence movement among African nations. Weston incorporated African music into his compositions, and at the end of a 1967 U.S. cultural delegation's tour of Africa, decided to settle in Tangier, Morocco, where the Brooklyn native operated his African Rhythms club for seven years. In this session, Weston performs a set of tunes reminiscent of his African experience, as well as one of his earliest influences, Thelonious Monk.

Weston kicks off the session with his tribute to Monk, "A Ballad for T.," which quotes a few bars from Monk's tunes. As a young man, Weston had the chance to spend time with Monk, and before ever visiting Africa, he'd found connections to the continent in Monk's music.

"My good friend, the bassist Ahmad Abdul-Malik's people were from the Sudan, and he played the oud, which has this thing of playing notes between the notes," Weston says. "I couldn't get that sound on the piano. But when I heard Thelonious Monk play, I heard this same magic on the piano; even his way of swinging had that same element."

"African Lady," part of Weston's 1960 suite Uhuru Africa, incorporates many African elements and contains a lyric penned by Langston Hughes. Weston's solo piano take evokes the African continent: elegant, lush landscapes as well as complex, bustling cities and windswept open country. Fifty years on, the piece still sounds fresh and evocative of the cradle of humankind.

Weston focuses on the African city closest to his heart with "Tanjah" (Arabic for Tangier).

"It's an incredible city," Weston says. "I had a house overlooking the Mediterranean, and I could see Spain on a clear day."

The tune opens with a repetitive, driving bass line and a pounding, Monk-like melody that gives way to a marching rhythm, with an Eastern-flavored figure played by the right hand. It conjures the melting pot of cultures in the city's crowded streets — the sounds and smells — and the wild, dusty landscape beyond the walls. "Little Niles" follows; it's a tune written for Weston's son, later known as Azzedine. This composition also refers to Monk in its playful bounce and angular clusters, but with a bit more drama.

Weston finds a deep connection between the organic character of jazz and the natural world.

"This music is totally in touch with Mother Nature. Mother Nature is always improvising — it's cold, it's hot, it rains, it snows... this music is in touch with the universe."

McPartland plays her portrait of Randy Weston, and she has no trouble evoking the towering personality of the 6'8" pianist. Herself no stranger to leaning on the pedals, McPartland sprinkles her trademark sparkle among deep, expansive chords.

The session closes with Weston's composition, "Ifrane," an epic tune from the 1972 album Blue Moses recorded with bassist Ron Carter, drummer Billy Cobham and an ensemble including Grover Washington and Freddie Hubbard. Weston was inspired to write the tune after visiting a ski village in the Atlas Mountains. He plays colorful notes over a monolithic bass line, and the twinkling notes ascend the keyboard to end this week's session high on a North African mountaintop.

Originally recorded May 12, 2009. Originally broadcast June 22, 2010.

Set List

  • "A Ballad for T." (R. Weston)
  • "African Lady" (R. Weston, M. Liston, L. Hughes)
  • "Tanjah" (R. Weston)
  • "Little Niles" (R. Weston)
  • "Portrait of Randy Weston" (M. McPartland)
  • "Ifrane" (R. Weston)
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