Tony Allen: A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Afrobeat drummer’s homage to hard-bop innovator

Thu, May 18, 2017, 07:45


A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Tony Allen

Blue Note


There is an appropriate symmetry to Tony Allen’s homage to Art Blakey. The co-creator (with Fela Kuti) of Afrobeat was hugely influenced by the thunderous drumming of the original Jazz Messenger, and the insistent polyrhythms of Africa 70 owed more than a little to Blakey’s hard-bop innovations.

But the great American drummer would surely have appreciated the compliment. Blakey visited west Africa in the late 1940s and his experiences there, politically and musically, were important ingredients in his mature style.

Recording in Paris with a muscular-seven piece group, the restless, ever-creative Allen – now in his late 70s – casts an Afrobeat spell over Messenger classics such as Moanin’ and A Night in Tunisia.