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.