'Rejoice' is a very special collaboration between Tony Allen, the co-founder of Afrobeat, and Hugh Masekela, the master of South African jazz.
Having first met in the '70s thanks to their respective close associations with Fela Kuti, the two world-renowned musicians talked for decades about making an afrobeat album together. When, in 2010, their touring schedules coincided in the UK, the moment presented itself and producer Nick Gold took the opportunity to record their encounter. The unfinished sessions, consisting of all original compositions by the pair, lay in archive until after Hugh passed away in 2018.
With renewed resolution, Tony Allen and Nick Gold, with the blessing and participation of Hugh's estate, unearthed the original tapes and finished recording the album in summer 2019 at the same London studio where the original sessions had taken place.
'Rejoice' can be seen as the long overdue confluence of two mighty African musical rivers - a union of two free-flowing souls for whom borders, whether physical or stylistic, are things to pass through or ignore completely. According to Allen, the album deals in "a kind of South African-Nigerian swing-jazz stew", with its roots firmly in afrobeat.
"It's hardly news that music can raise the spirits and lighten even the darkest times, but it's great when you encounter such music at just the right time. Rejoice indeed: From the minute you hold this album in your hands, its title and cover resembling John Coltrane's Ole Coltrane, it radiates good vibes. "
"The music comes from 2010 recording sessions between Tony Allen (star Afro-beat/jazz drummer) and Hugh Masekela (flugelhorn/trumpet, South African legend, who passed away in 2018). I always have mixed feeling when I hear music unearthed from the vaults of musicians, especially a posthumous release. Often I think, 'it was left in the vaults for a reason.'"
But not Rejoice. Produced by Nick Gold, it has a lovely, warm, funky, inclusive feel to it. It's like you're standing by Allen's drum kit as Masekela and the band play in front of you. As expected, Masekela's flugelhorn playing is brilliant, effortlessly bouncing off the rhythm section, with bass duties shared between Mutale Chashi and Tom Herbert. The latter is part of a strong Brit-jazz contingent that includes neglected sax player Steve Williamson, who interplays superbly with Masekela, especially on "Agbada Bougou." Singing and chanting in English, Yoruba, and Zulu give the record extra vim. It sums to a blend of bebop, Afrobeat, and, for me, even trip-hop in such tunes as "Slow Bones" and "Jabulani (Rejoice, Here Comes Tony)." There is upbeat funk, as in "Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)" with its chants of the title, and "Without Fela," paying tribute to the late Fela Kuti - which perhaps epitomizes why this is such an uplifting record. There is loss, and passing, but hope continues. The spirit is renewed." - Phil Brett, Stereophile Magazine, July 2020
- 180g Vinyl LP
- Obi strip
- Manufactured in the E.U.
- Robbers, Thugs And Muggers (O'Galajani)
- Agbada Bougou
- Coconut Jam
- Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be The Same)
- Slow Bones
- Jabulani (Rejoice, Here Comes Tony)
- Obama Shuffle Strut Blues
- We've Landed