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A Tribute to Art Blakey (2017)

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Tony Allen

On Tony Allen’s EP A Tribute to Art Blakey, the legendary Nigerian drummer and Afrobeat pioneer best known for his work with Fela Kuti pays tribute to his longstanding idol, the American jazz drummer and Blue Note legend Art Blakey. The EP was recorded live in Allen’s current hometown of Paris and features a fiery 7-piece band interpreting the Jazz Messengers classics “Moanin’,” “A Night In Tunisia,” “Politely” and “Drum Thunder Suite” through an Afrobeat prism. The EP was produced by Vincent Taurelle, whose production credits also include Allen's previous album Film of Life.

While American jazz—in particular the recordings of Blakey and Max Roach—had a big impact on Allen during his early musical development in Nigeria, the music of Africa was also hugely influential for Blakey (aka Abdullah Ibn Buhaina) throughout his career. In the late-1940s Blakey spent time traveling abroad in West Africa exploring the culture, religion, and of course, the drumming. Blakey later recorded several albums that were heavily influenced by African music including Orgy in Rhythm (1957), Holiday for Skins (1958), and The African Beat (1962), which featured the Nigerian drummer and percussionist Solomon Ilori.