WFH album of the week: Rejoice by Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela
When Tony Allen left Africa ‘70, Fela Kuti’s pioneering Afrobeat band, four drummers were drafted in to replace him. It gives some indication of just how magnificent the Nigerian drummer's talent was. To put it more succinctly, as Kuti famously once did: “Without Tony Allen, there would be no Afrobeat.”
The music world is mourning after Allen passed away last week at the age of 79, but his power with a stick in each hand remained undiminished. We got a glimpse of that sparkle with the Gorillaz track How Far?, featuring Allen’s drumming and released as a tribute by Damon Albarn last week.
Earlier this year, we were gifted what so sadly turned out to be Allen’s last ever full-length release, Rejoice, which is our working-from-home album of the week.
Taken from a studio session Allen recorded with another late giant of African music, the trumpeter Hugh Masekela, the eight-track release is a thing of understated joy. It’s built mainly on Allen’s drums, Masekela’s trumpets and a bass guitar, with occasional flourishes of keys and vocals. It keeps things simple and superb. Allen’s grooves are typically, inimitably brilliant, while Masekela’s horns flutter and dance with effortless style.
It’s an album that we’ve been listening to while we work since it dropped in March, and especially so since the news last week. We’d highly recommend doing likewise — both as a tribute to Allen’s brilliance, and also to make the most of its uplifting brightness to get you through the days.