Album Review: Tony Allen – The Source [Blue Note Records]

Hot on the heels of his highly acclaimed EP, A Tribute To Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, drumming legend Tony Allen returns with his wonderfully crafted jazz LP, The Source. Having never truly explored the genre before, Allen has married jazz with his first love, afrobeat, the results of which raise the question as to why it has taken so long.

“Cool Cats” sits as the brightest example of how well these two styles collide. A Fela-style organ sound pulls us in, over the top of Allen’s drums, which he has swinging hard with his afrobeat accent. Cheery horns bounce out a chorus which itself bears more than a passing resemblance to a Soweto jive.

On “Woro Dance”, one can almost imagine that Manu Dibango sat in on the recording, another African embrace that gilds this work.

The hybrid nature of this record, with its eleven original compositions, has spawned a very enjoyable listening experience. If viewed as a Venn diagram, the space where afrobeat and Jazz collide is plentiful, resulting in an exciting mesh of musical styles.