This article by Tom Orr appeared originally on World Music Central.
As a longtime fan of Afrobeat music, I was greatly interested when I heard that Chicago Afrobeat Project would be collaborating with drummer Tony Allen. Allen, after all, was the man behind the kit for all of Fela Kuti’s groundbreaking records and was just as instrumental (pun absolutely intended) in creating the Afrobeat style. What Goes Up (Chicago Afrobeat Project, 2017) does not disappoint. Allen’s militantly polyrhythmic drumming is as spot on as ever. He also brings the experimental feel of his recent works, so the album isn’t simply formulaic Afrobeat but rather an effective blend of contemporary textures (including measured doses of rap) and traditionally-grounded grooves.
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This article by Greg Kot originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
In some ways, the Chicago Afrobeat Project’s decade-plus career had been building to the moment in 2013 when band members found themselves in the same recording studio with one of their heroes, Tony Allen, the drummer on many of the greatest recordings by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti in the 1970s.
Afrobeat, a rhythmically demanding, politically charged interpretation of American soul and R&B that Fela popularized in his native Nigeria and then took around the world, was defined in many ways by Allen’s drumming. Since establishing itself in West Side jam sessions, the Chicago Afrobeat Project has been using Fela’s innovations as a jumping-off point for its own multigenre compositions and dance concerts.
So when Allen, now a resident of Paris, visited the Midwest a few years ago for a workshop and concert, Chicago Afrobeat Project persuaded the legendary drummer to set aside some time to record two songs with the band at Fullerton Recording Studios in Logan Square, which is run by the band’s keyboardist Kevin Ford.
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