Secret Agent (World Circuit Records/Nonesuch, 2010)
Nigerian drummer Tony Allen played an essential role in Fela Kuti’s music and Afrobeat in general. Allen played for 15 years with Fela Kuti’s bands. Allen’s signature drumming style introduced a revolutionary combination of rhythmic styles that included highlife, soul/funk, jazz and traditional West African drumming. “Fela said I sounded like four drummers,” says Allen. “I was the only one who originated the music I played.”
In recent years, coinciding with the growing interest in Afrobeat, Tony Allen has returned with a series of recordings. His latest album, released in April of 2010, is titled Secret Agent and it is also his first for the World Circuit label (Nonesuch in North America).
Secret Agent was recorded with Allen’s touring band of musicians from Nigeria, Cameroon, Martinique and France. The line-up includes rhythmic tenor guitar, funky keyboards, call and response vocals, and horns, plus Tony Allen’s formidable drum work. The music is the finest Afrobeat you can find, with bits of soul, funk, jazz, blues and Nigerian beats. “Music is my mission,” says Allen. “I never get satisfied and I’m still learning from others. The musical world is very spiritual, and I don’t think there’s an end to it. As musicians, it’s our mission to keep going.”
On Secret Agent Tony Allen demonstrates that he is one of the top drummers in Africa as well as one of the leading figures in the current Afrobeat scene.
Allen will embark on a U.S. tour this summer. Confirmed dates:
June 14 – Chicago, IL Millennium Park
June 15 – Boston, MA Middle East
June 17 – New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge
June 20 – Boonville, CA Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
For the Black Voices album 10th Anniversary Reissue, Comet Records made a Tony Allen video called “Black Voices Are Everywhere,” a film made by Eric Trosset featuring Tony Allen, Clip Payne, and Mudbone Cooper:
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Buy Tony Allen’s recordings:
- In north America: Secret Agent. Other recordings available: Inspiration Information, Vol. 4, Lagos No Shaking, Live, Black Voices, Afro Disco Beat, Home Cooking, No Accommodation for Lagos,
- In Europe: Secret Agent.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.