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Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen | OTO Live Party

An Afrobeat legend & a freak Finn prove music is an international language.

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Music might not be the universal language. But it’s certainly an international one. Exhibit A: The latest collaboration between Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen. For those who aren’t up to speed: 75-year-old Nigerian Allen is a legendary Afrobeat drummer who spent more than a decade laying down funky backbeats for the legendary Fela Kuti. Finnish freak Tenor is a multi-media multi-tasker who not only cooks on horns (hence his last name) and keyboards but also designs his own musical instruments. Speaking of oddball instruments: For this 2016 live recording in a London club, the dynamic duo also worked with a prototype sound system drum trigger unit built & operated by Moog Sound Lab in the U.K. It adds extra textures and tones to Allen’s transfixing shape-shifting grooves and freewheeling staccato tom-tom fills, fleshing out the sonic landscape beneath Tenor’s skonking solos and futuristic keyboards. Toss in the occasional vocal line and you’ve got six expansive, epic jams that smear the line between their styles and sounds — and one of the most idiosyncratic and individual live albums of late. It’s a keeper in any language.