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Tony Allen

“without Tony Allen, there would be no afrobeat” – Fela Kuti

Email Agent ∆ Download assets ∆ Press cuttings for “The Source”

“perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived” – Brian Eno

PRAISE FOR NEW ALBUM “THE SOURCE” OUT ON BLUE NOTE RECORDS:

The Guardian ∆ Pitchfork ∆ FACT MAG ∆  FT ∆ OKAY Africa  ∆ NY Times

Tony Allen needs little introduction. One of the founding fathers of afro-beat, his drumming style has influenced generations of musicians over the past 50 years. An original member of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and the inventor of the distinctive afrobeat drum rhythm, Tony went on to collaborate with artists from King Sunny Ade to Damon Albarn, continuing to be a true innovator with his own music, drawing on electronics, dub, rnb + rap in a synthesis he refers to as ‘afrofunk’, clearing his own path and demonstrating the versatility and diversity of his composing and playing.

2017 saw Tony realise a childhood dream: to play the music of the most African of the bebop fathers, Art Blakey… and to release it on legendary jazz label Blue Note. A Tribute to Art Blakey  was released in March 2017, followed by full album “The Source” in September. Tony is now touring with both projects, as a quartet for the Tribute and sextet for The Source.

Described by Tony as the best recording in his whole life, The Source is the Nigerian-born, Paris-based drummer’s first full-length album for Blue Note, following the tantalizing 4-track EP release A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Blue Note is one of the most prestigious names in jazz and a label that has opened its sphere of creativity considerably wider since its renaissance in the 1980s. The Source manages to represent the label’s classic era at the same time as it symbolizes Blue Note’s innovative present. The jazz here navigates its way back to the source in Africa, creating a sound that is totally captivating.

The best albums always tell a story. This one takes us back to the source of Allen’s art as a musician, in other words, to Nigeria in the latter half of the 20th century. Tony Oladipo Allen, who was born in Lagos in 1940, never played a traditional instrument: right from the beginning, his interest was for a distant relative of the ancestral percussion family, namely, the drum kit. He taught himself, serving his apprenticeship while working as a technician for Nigerian national radio, all the time listening to records by American masters such as Art Blakey, Max Roach and Kenny Clarke, the eminent drummers of the bebop and hard bop eras.

His life changed totally in 1964 when he made the acquaintance of Fela Kuti, whom he would accompany for the next 15 years, first with Fela’s Koola Lobitos, an emblematic highlife band that was a model for all modern African music groups, and then when Fela led Africa 70, for which he developed a new music language: Afrobeat, which combined Yoruba rhythms and funk instruments with themes of revolution. Alongside Fela, Tony recorded some 20 albums and put his rhythm-signature to each of them. From then on, Afrobeat would propel a career that saw him pursue his own projects while collaborating with everyone from Oumou Sangare to Damon Albarn (in The Good, The Bad & The Queen).

In early 2017, Tony began preparing The Source, the next step in the musical and spiritual voyage that he has undertaken from Africa to America and beyond.

 

Check his interview with The Wire on jazz and afrobeat