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Afrobeat - Released March 4, 1979 | Comet

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
In 2002, Evolver released No Accommodation for Lagos/No Discrimination, which contained two albums -- No Accommodation for Lagos (1978, originally released on P-Vine) and No Discrimination (1980, also originally released on P-Vine) -- by Tony Allen on one compact disc. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 7, 2021 | Blue Note Records

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Tony Allen arguably had the most eclectic CV out of anyone in the world of contemporary music. The tireless explorer Tony Allen started his career with Fela Kuti, and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Jean-Louis Aubert, Jeff Mills, Ray Lema, Sébastien Tellier, Manu Dibango, Damon Albarn and Charlotte Gainsbourg. His final foray, before his death on 30 April 2020 was into the world of hip-hop. With producer Vincent Taeger aka Tiger Tigre, he began improvising on drums while listening to American rap classics. Soon, he felt compelled to make beats for rappers. And as Tony Allen was never one to cling to past glories, he went in for freshness and inspiration, and gathered together a cast of new voices who had something to say.Tony Allen was never able to complete this project. But he was able to record all his drum parts, and Vincent Taeger finished the work off brilliantly: the result was that this record saw the light of day exactly one year after the Nigerian musician passed away. This record has the feel of a real producer's album, with a very laid-back 90s vibe on the opening tracks featuring Sampa the Great and Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon. Tony Allen works musical wonders, creating a hypermodern, avant-garde sound. On Mau Mau, almost all the melody comes from the drums, while Kenyan rapper Nah Eeto lets fly with a cool, soul-tinged flow. From soul, we move on to funk, with Zelooperz and Koreatown Oddity, a Los Angeles rapper signed to Stones Throw, performing on Rich Black. After that, Hurt Your Soul (feat Nate Bone) takes us back to New York and the Def Jux label. The album ends with two masterpieces: My Own, with a jazzy beat, funky guitar and unstinting flow from the American duo Marlowe; and Cosmosis, a great track that mixes afro, pop and cosmic sounds, with Ben Okri and Skepta on the microphone, Damon Albarn on bass and keyboard and Remi Kabaka, his colleague from Gorillaz, handling percussion. This was the only track on the album which was recorded as an ensemble piece: it was one of Tony Allen's final jams. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 19, 2017 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Africa - Released June 8, 2009 | World Circuit

It's no surprise that Tony Allen's new album does nothing to dim his reputation as one of the world's greatest drummers. He's the personification of subtlety, leading from the back and carefully pushing and prodding the music, but doing this so cleverly that half the time people don't even notice he's there. He's certainly a man whose four limbs operate independently, setting up cross- and counter-rhythms that add extra levels of texture and complexity to the music. On Secret Agent, recorded in his native Lagos, he's joined by a number of guests (including five different vocalists), but the core musicians working with him are producer Fixi, who contributes several instruments, and Cameroonian guitarist Claude Dibongue, who works well in this framework. It's largely Afrocentric, and definitely political, in the best tradition of Allen's late employer, Fela Kuti. Allen himself contributes vocals to the opening and closing tracks, showing he's more than a drummer, even if his voice is low-key. That he plays so well is remarkable. That he does it like this when he's almost 70 is amazing. © Chris Nickson /TiVo
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World - Released May 29, 2020 | Comet Records

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Africa - Released June 19, 2009 | Honest Jon's Records

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World - Released May 29, 2009 | Comet Records

Black Voices is Afro-beat drum groove originator Tony Allen's return to action after leaving Nigeria, settling in Paris in 1985, and dropping off the map as far as making records goes. It's a remix project of tracks from singles more than an LP per se, a largely two-person affair with Allen manning the drums and keyboards and Doctor L supplying the modern dub mixology. While it's hard to imagine a minimalist or trip-hop take on a sound as big-band maximalist as Afro-beat and related rhythm forms, that's pretty much what these two have come up with here. "Asiko" is an effective opener with updated Fela electric piano lines -- Allen's drums are the lead instrument and central to mix with the melodic shards darting in and out around the rhythms. "Get Together" is alternately sunny and weird with nice closing horns, and "Black Voices (We Are What We Play Mix)" is minimalist dub Afro-beat with a bass spine blended to spooky keyboard burbles, stabbing clavinet explosions, and whispered head-trip lyrics. Those misterioso internal musings sorta recall some Lee Perry dub or Tricky trip-hop. The fragmentary "The Same Blood" (is that a sample from Allen's "Discrimination" in there?) ebbs and flows around a single guitar riff for too long and the minimal drums, voice, and occasional percussion of "Asiko (In a Silent Mix)" isn't worth nine and a half minutes. The original mix of "Black Voices" is too low-key to sustain interest, but the fuller "Ariya (Psychejujumix)" does, with Allen's drums complemented by guitar, bass, and vocal chants. Black Voices was obviously designed to connect Allen with the international electronica dancefloor crew, and it works fairly well on that level. But it also sounds like a strong EP -- "Asiko," "Black Voices (We Are What We Play Mix)," "Ariya (Psychejujumix)," and "Get Together" -- padded with filler to make it a 50-minute, full-list-price CD. Since those four songs are now available in some form on Allen's solo career best-of Eager Hands and Restless Feet, Black Voices is a long way from essential. © Don Snowden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 8, 2017 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Afrobeat - Released January 1, 1985 | Comet Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 2, 2020 | Parlophone UK

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Afrobeat - Released July 4, 2004 | Comet Records

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Jazz - Released March 20, 2020 | World Circuit

It should surprise no one who has ever followed the music of Nigerian drummer Tony Allen and/or South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela that this session exists. Though the great trumpeter passed away in 2018, his seven-decade-long career was filled with musical adventure across genres. For Allen, a co-creator of Afrobeat and a true progenitor of 21st century Afro-funk, innovation, experimentation, change, and disruption have been part of the game since he began playing. They were introduced to one another by Fela Kuti in the '70s and remained friends. The pair had talked for decades about making an album, and in 2010 they found time in between touring schedules to begin this project. Producer Nick Gold, acclaimed for numerous world music productions including The Buena Vista Social Club, recorded the meeting. These unfinished sessions sat untouched in the archives until Masekela's passing. With the blessing and assistance of Masekela's estate, Gold and Allen unearthed the original tapes and finished the recording in 2019 at the same London studio. They also hired London jazz mainstays in keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones, bassists Tom Herbert and Mutale Chashi, and saxophonist Steve Williamson. The brightly designed cover is a dead cross between John Coltrane's Ole and Solomon Ilori's African High Life sleeves. What transpires is not pure Afrobeat, the relentlessly danceable music from Lagos, but instead a "chamber" version of it, alongside swinging modern jazz, spidery, skeletal funk, and South African township groove combined. Masekela's singing, chanting, and wonderfully inventive trumpet lines blend effortlessly with Allen's drums digging into primal source rhythms and articulating them with a maestro's flair at the center of the mix. Opener "Robbers, Thugs and Muggers" is grounded in a sung chant directed at Allen's propulsive snare skitter and hi-hat washes. It's answered by Masekela's bluesy horn, cutting across hard bop, jive, and folk, quoting from "Eleanor Rigby" for good measure. Armon-Jones' Rhodes piano enters later as Allen ratchets the intensity from a simmer to a slow boil. "Agbada Bougou" delivers a funky Afrobeat backbeat as Masekela and Williamson offer modal melodies atop a funky bassline. "Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)" is actually a mutant take on Afrobeat. With Masekela chanting "Lagos never gonna be the same/Never/ Without Fela…" Armon-Jones adds funky Rhodes over a driving electric bassline, punchy trumpet fills, hand percussion, and bubbling, snaky drums. "Jabulani (Rejoice, Here Comes Tony)" has Armon-Jones' vibes playing counter fills around Masekela's call-and-response phrasing and Allen's almost mystifying circular rhythmic improvisation. "Slow Bones" spotlights a tough sax and horn dialogue. Closer and first single "We've Landed" finds Masekela joining Allen's ritualized, incantatory drumming by quoting Miles Davis -- even riffing on the melodic vamp from "Black Satin" at one point -- with his bell-like tone and blues-drenched phrasing. No matter what lengths Gold and Allen went to, to complete Rejoice, the core playing, and camaraderie are peerless, and therefore justified. This is a fitting postscript and testament to Masekela's legend, and the music on this date, while historic, is absolutely defined by its title. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 22, 2020 | World Circuit

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World - Released January 1, 2003 | Narada

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Jazz - Released May 7, 2021 | Blue Note Records

Drummer Tony Allen was the consummate rhythm machine, a veritable time-keeping code master of groove. The great drummer's hundreds of credits include driving the beat behind Fela Kuti as well as fellow Africans King Sunny Ade and Manu Dibango; crisscrossing pop, funk, and dancefloor grooves with Damon Albarn in the Good, the Bad & the Queen and Gorillaz; working with electronic producers such as Moritz von Oswald and Jeff Mills; and delivering funky jazz with Ernest Ranglin and Hugh Masekela, and especially on his own recordings including 1979's No Discrimination, 2005's Lagos No Shaking, and 2009's Secret Agent. Further, Allen and his trademark register-switching technique offered much potential to samplers. Among those who drew from his work were J Dilla, Common, Missy Elliott, Nas, Mos Def, and Latin jazz drummer Bobby Matos. There Is No End is released on the first anniversary of Allen's death at age 79. Beginning his work on the album in 2019, Allen was enthusiastic about collaborating with a new generation of rappers and instrumentalists. He finished recording his beats for the basic tracks with French producer Vincent Taeger (who produced the drummer's Film of Life outing in 2014). Taeger and co-producer Vincent Taurelle then completed the set posthumously with previously selected musicians and vocalists. "Stumbling Down" tumbles out of the speaker with Allen's metronymic snare and hi-hat pulse with dubby breaks surrounding rapper Sampa the Great's trippy delivery. "Très Magnifique" features New Nepali rapper Tsunami nearly whispering as if he were in a fever dream driven by popping tom-toms and kick drums. Kenyan rapper Nah Eeto hovers above organic and synthetic beats and punchy keyboard bass on "Mau Mau" and adds poignancy with her steely lyrics. Swinging tom-toms frame Koreatown Oddity's souled-out rap on "Rich Black." Check the multi-textured layers of guitar, bass, and keyboards that frame Allen's martial snare and hi-hat attack on "Coonta Kinte" as Zelooperz whines urgently into the din. Danny Brown's reedy rap carries the foreground in the hallucinatory, dubby beat collision titled "Deer in Headlights," amid jazzy brass, swirling keyboards, and Allen's phase-shifted drum kit. Closer "Cosmosis" is an outlier. Allen, Albarn, and rapper Skepta had completed "How Far" for the Gorillaz's Song Machine when award-winning Nigerian poet and author Ben Okri walked into the studio. Albarn played a melodic hook, threading Allen's polyrhythmic African groove through lush yet urgent Western pop. Okri took the mic and delivered spoken word passages as Skepta appended his lines with fiery rapping. The quartet recorded it together live in a single take. Allen's inimitable playing style and inclusive approach provided him with an uncanny ability to embrace virtually every collaborator's approach and bring out their strengths without diluting his own trademark style. There Is No End delivers more evidence of that. Taeger and Taurelle fully comprehended Allen's musicality and embraced its kaleidoscopic dimensions. As such, it is rendered free of the misdirected, sometimes jagged and piecemeal conceits that litter other artists' posthumous offerings. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 8, 2017 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Best known as the drummer for Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, Tony Allen is an icon in his own right, an innovator, and a vital architect of Kuti's percussively funky, jazz- and R&B-soaked sound. On his full-length Blue Note debut, 2017's The Source, Allen expands upon those contributions with new compositions inspired by the jazz that shaped his early years. 77 years old at the time of this recording, Allen grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where he soaked up Juju and other traditional West African music styles. Initially, however, it was American jazz that caught his imagination, specifically bop artists like Max Roach and Art Blakey -- the latter of whom he paid homage to on his 2017 EP, Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. On The Source, he balances both his jazz and Afrobeat sides, delivering buoyant songs that are equal parts funky jams, harmonic engagements, and modal workouts. Helping him achieve this synergistic combination is Paris-based saxophonist Yann Jankielewicz, who previously appeared on Allen's 2009 effort, Secret Agent. Here, Allen and Jankielewicz have crafted songs that showcase the drummer's muscular, kinetic style and ability to lead a robust ensemble. Making up that ensemble are an adventurous cadre of Jankielewicz's fellow Parisians including bassist Mathias Allamane, guitarist Indy Dibongue, pianist Jean Phi Dary, trumpeter Nicolas Giraud, trombonist and tuba player Daniel Zimmermann, saxophonists Jean Jacques Elangue and Remi Sciuto, and organist Vincent Taurelle. Also making an appearance is Allen's the Good, the Bad & the Queen bandmate Damon Albarn, who slips in for some piano hijinks. The opening "Moody Boy" starts dramatically with a bluesy rubato tuba statement from Zimmermann, played with a soulful urgency that improbably brings to mind John Coltrane, and then leaps headlong into a crisp, funky groove marked by Vincent Taurelle's juicy organ. Also engaging are cuts like the celebratory "Push and Pull," which impossibly marries Preservation Hall-style group improvisation with a bouncy highlife-jazz energy. Yet other cuts, like "Tony's Blues" and "Ewajo," sound like something Charles Mingus might have written for Fela Kuti. One of the most satisfying aspects of The Source is just how nuanced and harmonically varied these arrangements are. There's a real chamber jazz aspect to many of the songs as the band swells and vibrates against Allen's intense drum tumult until the entire ensemble erupts into a cacophony of soulful, winding skronk. If Allen felt the impulse to celebrate his idol Art Blakey on his previous EP, with The Source, he offers an open-ended coda to that influence; an earthy, majestic, endlessly inventive album that caps both his own storied career and points the way toward the future. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 19, 2017 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Jazz - Released February 26, 2020 | World Circuit

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Jazz - Released July 29, 2020 | World Circuit

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Jazz - Released April 21, 2017 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

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Tony Allen in the magazine