Fela Kuti is known to have once said that “without Tony Allen, there would be no afrobeat”, a quote that is often looked to when trying to measure the Nigerian-born drummer’s talent and influence on the genre and beyond.
On top of that, Brian Eno described him as “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived”. That’s some pretty serious praise – and you can see the man-marvel for yourself, February 7 at Club Niceto, in a show that will pay tribute to the late jazz drummer Art Blakey, who himself took much of his influence from West Africa.
There are stories abound that do just as much to demonstrate Allen’s abilities with his kit, including one tale that describes how, after leaving Fela’s Africa ’70 band at the height of their success in the 1970’s, several drummers were needed to match the relentless, pacy sound Allen had so masterfully created.
Together with Fela Kuti between 1968-79, Allen combined funk and jazz with Ghanaian and Nigerian highlife to create a distinct and fresh take on African music, releasing over 30 albums. Since then, he has worked with Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, as well as Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, collaborations which not only show his pedigree but also his dynamism as an artist.
A man who, at 77, believes he is only just reaching the peak of his abilities as a musician, Allen is a true maestro, having helped shape the modern musical landscape of Africa and much further afield. This is not one to miss.
7 February | 9PM
Niceto Club | Niceto Vega 5510