Radio Quarantine – Tony Allen – Kilode

This morning I’m remembering the recently departed drum legend Tony Allen, probably best known here in North America as a regular in Feli Kuti’s Africa 70 (and every other incarnation of the band). It’s funny I just pulled Lagos No Shaking off the shelf a couple weeks ago for a funk jazz afro-jazz workout. Shortly after he was gone. You really have to listen to Tony sans Fela to get the proper perspective on just he shaped Fela’s sound at the back of the stage on the drum riser. None of it would have come out the way it did without Tony Allen.

RIP man, you had a hell of a run.

And I’m going to editorialize and contextualize here for just a sec. I got turned on to Afrobeat 40 years ago at about the time I first started listening to salsa and Afro-Cuban music. The connection was and is absolutely key to everything. Africa to “the New World” and then back and forth, and this is what it sounds like. When Fela moved from Joe’s Pub to Broadway there were posters all over midtown. I got excited when I saw them and the woman I was involved with at the time said to me in a semi-derisive tone that my interest was solely in the potential to see beautiful black women throwing it back… How could I explain it though so I just told this woman that we had to see it and she would know, and we did, and she did. I think she left gouges in the handrests in the theater. It was clear.

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