The Source

The Source

by Tony AllenTony Allen


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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.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/08/2017
Label: Blue Note Records
UPC: 0602557810912
catalogNumber: 002721402
Rank: 72134


  1. Moody Boy
  2. Bad Roads
  3. Cruising
  4. On Fire
  5. Woro Dance
  6. Tony's Blues
  7. Wolf Eats Wolf
  8. Cool Cats
  9. Push and Pull
  10. Ewajo
  11. Life Is Beautiful

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tony Allen   Primary Artist,Drums
Damon Albarn   Piano
Jean Phillippe Dary   Organ,Clavinet,Piano (Grand)
Rémi Sciuto   Flute,Baritone Saxophone,Bass Saxophone
Vincent Taurelle   Organ
Nicolas Giraud   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Mathias Allamane   Double Bass
Daniel Zimmermann   Trombone,Tuba
Jean Jacques Elangue   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Yann Jankielewicz   Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Indy Dibongue   Guitar

Technical Credits

Tony Allen   Arranger,Composer
Jean Phillippe Dary   Arranger,Composer
Bertrand Fresel   Producer,Engineer
Vincent Taurelle   Producer,Engineer
Eric Trosset   Executive Producer
Yann Jankielewicz   Composer
Indy Dibongue   Composer

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