Friday 16 November 2012

Tony Allen, King Of The Groove

Together with Fela Kuti, drummer Tony Allen invented the afrobeat several decades ago. Now in his seventies he's still one of the biggest performers in that genre. The master made a guest appearance at this year's Amsterdam edition of Felabration last month. But whenever you are able to see a legend like Allen perform an entire show, you have to grab that opportunity.

Tony Allen's Black Series at Bimhuis Amsterdam, November 9 2012

For the Black Series tour, the drummer from Nigeria is visiting the jazz club Bimhuis in Amsterdam which filled up nicely. He's accompanied by a young band where especially trumpet player Nicolas Giraud is getting plenty of freedom to play his sparkling solos. Allen is seated behind a golden drum kit overlooking the young band. But he's not pleased with everyone sitting down in this jazz club. Naturally this is quite normal in this kind of venue but Allen wants people to dance! Many people are quietly moving their body in their seat to the irresistible grooves. "Allen doesn't hold the sticks: they float between his fingers as if by magic" according to British news paper The Guardian. This is absolutely true. His relaxed and loose style is a delight to watch. The groove never ceases, which he keeps on going at all time. Even when playing fills or grabbing a few more drum sticks, the groove is always there.

That's what makes him such a great drum player. His timing is phenomenal, always laid back, playing his grooves behind the beat. Bass player César Anot is the perfect match here. Anot seems to be smiling the whole evening and is enjoying the rythms the master drummer is laying down. After the break, people are still in their seats and Allen can't take it any more. He and his band urge people to stand up and start shaking their booty. Fortunately no one can ignore this request any more and within no time we are all dancing. Now the show is really taking off. Allen is smiling and the band is looking content. The band's efforts are paying off now and the room is boiling with energy. This causes the music to swing and groove even more. It shows how important energy between a band and an audience is.

Every member of the band is allowed to show their skills. Francois Xavier Bossard on keys is playing some hot solos, Claude Dibongué is playing laid back guitar solos and singer Audrey Gbaduidi is getting her time in the spot light as well. Of course they have to come back for encores since the crowd is hungry for so much more now. It's good to see how a band can turn around a performance and end up winning big time. Allen is all smiles and for a good reason. What a legend!

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