It is a humble attempt to acknowledge an elder in whose character, life journey and legacy, we recognize for the qualities of innovation, industry and excellence. The awardee for the year 2018 is pianist and educator, Mr. Richard Rafik Williamson, a man who has sacrificed fame and fortune for the integrity of the art and skills of jazz, ensuring its preservation by passing on the skills and history of jazz, “The Music of a Spirit”, to our youth and community. It is our true honor to recognize Mr. Williamson for his outstanding contribution to the world of jazz.
After contributing seven decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remains one of the world's foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary. Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa his global creations musically continue to inform and inspire. "Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat," states jazz critic Stanley Crouch, "but his art is more than projection and time; it's the result of a studious and inspired intelligence that is creating a fresh synthesis of African elements with jazz technique".
In 2015–16, the Jazz Research Initiative in collaboration with the Hutchins Center, Loeb Music Library, the Harvard College Library, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences acquired the archives of pianist and composer Randy Weston. A pianist of powerful intensity and originality, Weston emerged from a thriving musical scene in 1950s Brooklyn, which included Max Roach, George Russell, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Al Harewood, and Miles Davis. Weston also played a leading role in raising awareness of Africa in the jazz world through his State Department sponsored visits. Weston’s archive offers a rare glimpse into the world of the artist, an ambassador and a businessman. The documentation of Weston’s life comes in all forms and from every period of his prolific career, creating a study in both the cultural history of America in the mid-1950s and the inner workings of a musical master. The impressively comprehensive archive contains hundreds of manuscripts, scores, videos, films, photographs, and more than 1,000 tape recordings.
Mr. Weston could not be there for the official presentation, so Ms. Jasmine Morris (YMIT member and Melvin D. Thompson Masters Musician Training program awardee), presented Mr. Weston with his award from Quest on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at The New School for Jazz. Mr. Weston was pleased and happy to be honored by his home neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.
All travellers on the many roads to success in life owe much to those who have gone before them. All roads have been made that much more clear by the feet of those who have walked them in the past. New words are founded on old ones.  New ideas are extensions of time-honored thoughts seeking new skin.  Pathfinders, trailblazers and pioneers are merely those who steer off of the common road to track a new one. It is the creations of the past that spur the innovations of tomorrow. We all owe a great debt to our elders and ancestors; those who came before and paved a way.
It is in this light that Quest Youth Organization, a member of Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, institutes the “Upon The Shoulders of our Elders Award”, to be presented by Quest Artistic Director, Mr. Rachiim Sahu at the first ever Youth Jazz Jamboree Competition, sponsored by Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium on Saturday May 14, 2016 at 2pm on the West Plaza at Restoration.
It is a humble attempt to recognize an elder in whose character, life journey and legacy, we recognize the qualities of innovation, industry and excellence.  The awardee for the year 2016 is jazz bassist and educator, Mr. Bob Cunningham. It is our true honor to recognize Mr. Cunningham for his outstanding contribution to the world of jazz.


Quest Youth Organization, Inc. PO Box 26724 Brooklyn, NY 11202 Phone: 718.928.7058

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