Tony Allen & Adrian Younge: Tony Allen JID018 (Jazz Is Dead) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 27th, 2023  

Tony Allen & Adrian Younge

Tony Allen JID018

Jazz Is Dead

Sep 12, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Tony Allen was an absolute giant, best known for being Fela Kuti’s drummer in the ’70s and thus helping to invent Afrobeat. The genre was once described by Brian Eno as one of the three beats of the ’70s, the others being Neu!’s motorik beat (driven by drummer Klaus Dinger, later of La Dusseldorf) and Giorgio Moroder’s disco beat, made famous with hits in collaboration with Donna Summer and others. Kuti’s influence is felt far and wide, even culminating in a Jay Z produced Broadway musical that was released in 2008.

In addition to that, Allen was also a member of the 2000s supergroup The Good, The Bad, and The Queen with Damon Albarn (Blur) and Paul Simonon (The Clash) after developing his own “Afrofunk” (a fusion of electronica, r’n’b, and rap with Afrobeat) sound in the ’80s and beyond and playing with musicians like King Sunny Ade, Gorillaz, Zap Mama, and many others, with Albarn calling him his greatest musical teacher. So yes, to say that he was important and revered amongst his peers is a gross understatement.

Therefore, Jazz Is Dead, a label run by musicians Adrian Younge (also the musical director for this series and the guitarist/bassist on these tracks) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (formerly of A Tribe Called Quest, where he accompanied Q-Tip and Pfife on their iconic ’90s albums) scored a major coup in releasing Allen’s last recording before his death in 2020. (This was recorded at Linear Labs Studio in the summer of 2018.) That said, it feels like such an appropriate home for this scintillating jazz-funk influenced collection given that the series unites jazz legends with younger musicians who are in thrall to them.

Scott Mayo’s flute on the opening “Ebun” even reminds one of the work of previous Jazz is Dead labelmate Brian Jackson (see JID 008) with Gil Scott-Heron in the ’70s, but at only eight songs in about 27 minutes, this breezy, yet jam-packed collection goes by so fast that you’ll just want to play it again. There are moments that remind one of Allen’s ’70s work, but much of it is its own beast, being more of a piece with previous Jazz Is Dead releases by ’70s legends like Jackson, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Roy Ayers. It’s an intoxicating, addictive mix that serves as a joyous epitaph to a legendary career. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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