Jazz Village Tony Allen : Film Of Life (NI,2014)****
The introductionary words by Miller Chernoff in the booklet remind us how much Tony Allen as a drummer makes us realise that the African rhythm is the mother of rhythm, the core of modern rhythm, which Tony Allen shows us without playing any African drum. He was more directly inspired by jazz from Art Blakey and Max Roach while owing certain techniques from African origin. This pretty much says something about the drumming on this album too, which gives structure and a deepened productional vision over his tracks. He plays drums like a jazz drummer, while the core essence of its tracks lie deeply connected with Afrobeat and funk, as for the guitar rhythms and the vocal and a few sax/trumpet/brass related call and responses. At the same time, in coming to age, one could expect Tony Allen to simplify ideas to certain essences, I still notice a further developed complexity in colour, in arrangement, while the grooves or song stories are kept simple, by referring back either to African story telling and message telling by a spokesman or singers, or by presenting a few pop-songs with guest singers like Damon Albarn, or by presenting the tracks like filmic productions. In every track the complexity of arranging is done in such a way its complex colourful pallet makes you go and listen to the tracks again, and again. Here we have the essence of various forms of possible musical and also lyrical messages. One more African soul element is provided by a few girl singers (Adunni and the backing vocals Nefertiti). There has been use of drum, percussion, bass and guitar but also vibraphone, occasional brass instruments and also some keyboards, used as texturing element or with exotic sounds like that of a xylophone orchestra (track 5), or mellotron, and occasional instruments like melodeon. The drum remains the most wonderful structuring power in the tracks. Very good!