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Drummer Tony Allen, Blending Art Blakey and Afrobeat


The drummer Art Blakey, above, will get a tribute from Tony Allen.

G. Paul Burnett/Associated Press

The fluid, multidirectional heft of Tony Allen’s drumming helped define the sound and gravitas of Fela Kuti’s Afrika 70 band, which pioneered the Afrobeat style in the 1960s and ’70s. Mr. Allen doubled as the group’s de facto musical director for over a decade, and even recorded a few albums with the band under his own name.

From early on, jazz was a chief influence on him, alongside highlife and Nigerian spiritual music. He listened especially to the swing of Art Blakey, which was as dense and weighty in its own way as Mr. Allen’s funk beat. Mr. Allen’s latest release is an EP for Blue Note Records that pays tribute to Blakey’s music; it bends the music of Blakey into a grooving Afrobeat sound. He will present a quartet featuring some of the musicians from that record to Le Poisson Rouge at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 5. (lpr.com.)

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