Tony Allen JID018 Tony Allen and Adrian Younge
- 2Steady Tremble03:07
- 4Don’t Believe The Dancers02:56
- 7No Beginning02:42
- 8No End02:38
Info for Tony Allen JID018
With each subsequent release, Jazz Is Dead continues to exalt the legacies of iconic musicians who have shaped the fabric of Jazz across generations, genres, and continents. For their latest installment, the label connected with the late great Tony Allen, best known for his foundational work as the drummer for Fela Kuti's Africa 70, and later Egypt 80. Over the course of Allen's recording career, he defined the Afrobeat sound, meshing Funk & Jazz influences with Nigerian Highlife to create a cross-cultural dialogue that has gone global. It was no small honor to welcome Mr. Allen for a very special recording session at Linear Labs Studio, and we could not be more thrilled to share these crucial and downright funky cuts with you.
On album opener "Ebun", guitars and horns build off of Allen's instantly recognizable drum patterns, stretching and warping time signatures as they cross paths. It instantly recalls the seminal Africa 70 recordings which Allen was a driving force on. Psychedelic keyboards and percussion clash on "Steady Tremble", a heavy stomper tailor-made for dancefloors in every corner of the world. Just as funky is the kinetic and expressive "Oladipo". Built between a tense call and response between the horns, the track is filled with drama, and Allen steadily keeps each element in balance. As soon as the flute struts in alongside fiery horns and guitar on "Don't Believe the Dancers", the groove plunges further, propelled by an acerbic saxophone solo that animates Allen's percussion. "Makoko" is a moody, mid-tempo jam that evokes classic Fela Kuti recordings such as "Open & Close" and "Gentleman", slowly constructing an elaborate orchestra of polyrhythm, all keeping step with Allen's rhythm. "Lagos" points towards the spiritual and literal home of Allen and Afrobeat, the capital of Nigeria, and homes in on a yearning keyboard.
Similar to on his excellent Art Blakey tribute record, Tony Allen is a revelatory jazz drummer, as heard on "No Beginning", a mid-tempo tune that sits at the nexus of Spiritual Jazz and Afrobeat, which perfectly transitions into album closer, the aptly titled "No End", a poignant number that combines all of the passion and precision of the previous tracks, and let's Allen guide listeners yet again as only he so effortlessly could.
Despite the finite time that Allen had on this planet, as do all of us, his contributions to music are timeless and untouchable, and will continue to inform and inspire generations to come. Jazz Is Dead is honored to have played a part in the legacy of Tony Allen and invites you to discover the unparalleled genius that shifted the entire world's conception of time, a magician who alchemized the past with the future and influenced countless listeners, currently and to come.
Tony Allen, drums
Adrian Younge, electric bass guitar, electric guitars, acetone electric organ, marimba, percussion
Marcus Gray, additional percussion
Jazmin Hicks, additional percussion
Loren Oden, additional percussion
Scott Mayo, flute
Phillip Whack, alto saxophone
Jaman Laws, tenor saxophone
David Urquidi, baritone saxophone
Jacob Scesney, baritone saxophone
Emile Martinez, trumpet
Tatiana Tate, trumpet
Lasim Richards, trombone
is one of the greatest drummers on the planet - the man who created Afrobeat with Fela Kuti. 24 years after leaving Fela's band he remains a restless and potent trail blazer for new African musical adventures.
Tony Allen's small and wiry frame contrasts with the powerful and transcendent force he radiates. On stage, behind that massive drum kit he's serenely controlling the band. Compulsively watchable, you don't want to miss a beat. 'Sir' Victor Olayia (aka Evil Genius of Highlife) was the man who lit Tony's fuse. His band, the Cool Cats, gigged around Nigeria throughout the 50's in the wake of Mensah Highlife hysteria. He always had an eye for young talent. A certain Fela Ransome Kuti had sung with him for a couple of years, before he left for London to study music. Tony hung out with the Cool Cats and started playing claves. His big chance came when the drummer left and their new leader Sivor Lawson offered him the sticks.
Then in 1964, a guy came round and asked him to come and audition for a Jazz DJ at Nigeria Broadcasting, some cat called Fela Kuti, who was looking for the right drummer for his jazz-highlife band, Koola Lobitos. Fela was just back from 4 years of studying Music Theory and trumpet at Trinty College, London. He'd also got bitten real bad by the jazz bug while he was there. 'That's why he wanted me. After the audition Fela said, 'How come you are the only guy in Nigeria who plays like this - Jazz and Highlife?
'Fela used to write out the parts for all the musicians in the band (Africa '70). I was the only one who originated the music I played. He tried to write it for me but we both knew it didn't sound so good that way. Fela said I sound like 4 drummers.'
After Tony's departure from the band in the mid 70's he joined an all drummer show with Khofi Ghanaba at National Theatre in Lagos, checking out his roots and then he cut the still compelling No Discrimination album. The '80's saw him playing with King Sunny Ade in London, Ray Lema in Paris and releasing his own Afrobeat gem, NEPA. The '90's saw him working on the dub soaked, future Afrobeat of the Black Voices album for far sighted and hip Comet Records, produced by Doctor L, incendiary DJ and pillar of the Parisian electronica elite. As the new century came round, Tony gave us the deconstructed jazzy Afrobeat of Psycho On Da Bus.
This album contains no booklet.