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TONY ALLEN: THE RHYTHM BEHIND AFROBEAT

Post by: CatalinaJohnson
Posted on: 07/31/13 in Artist Interview, Catalina Maria Johnson,
ChicagoMusic.org, Concert Preview, World


Last Sunday, Chicago musicians and Afrobeat enthusiasts were treated to a rare event-master drummer Tony Allen, Fela Kuti’s original drummer, shared thoughts and rhythms at a master class held at Reggie’s Bar. The workshop precedes a concert at Reggie’s on August 1.

The master class was sponsored in part by the Tony Allen PerformingYoruba Arts Foundation. This organization presents programs that “unpack the cultural codes” and present art in its full context, says the President of its Board, Oyekunle Oyegbemi, who also guided the conversation with Allen.

Oyegbemi and Allen covered a number of subjects, painting a musical landscape of beats and melodies that emerged as cultures moved and migrated and collided, sometimes by force. One of the many intriguing concepts that were shared included the role of the descendants of slavery which emigrated from Brazil and Cuba and settled in Lagos, Nigeria, and whose music now touched by the New World, contributed to the development of Afrobeat.

Of course, the highlight of the afternoon was a mini-performance with Tony Allen and the Chicago Afrobeat Project. Allen’s drumming was an exercise in effortless perfection-and a lesson in the use of silence and pauses to create a rich and textured tapestry upon which the Chicago Afrobeat Project musicians laid in their riffs.

We also had a chance to chat with the maestro and get his point of view on politics and music, a unique opportunity to hear about the early days with Fela Kuti and what Afrobeat is all about.