Tony AllenThe Source
“The Source” is the next step in Allen’s musical and spiritual voyage, and a further exploration of his early jazz influences. To share writing tasks and take care of the arrangements, he called on saxophonist Yann Jankielewicz, with whom he has worked since 2009 and the album Secret Agent. They began by getting together to listen to and exchange their favorite jazz records: Lester Bowie, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Gil Evans… albums that served as a compass to guide them on their way.
“Tony has never played drums as well as this,” says Jankielewicz. “He's never had as much freedom, never had as much power as he does today.”
Surrounding Allen are some of the best musicians on a Paris scene that is difficult to call “jazz” due to its highly changeable nature: Jankielewicz alongside saxophonists Rémi Sciuto and Jean-Jacques Elangue, trumpeter Nicolas Giraud, trombonist Daniel Zimmermann, bassist Mathias Allamane, pianist Jean-Philippe Dary, and keyboardist Vincent Taurelle, who produced the album with Bertrand Fresel… a French cast to begin with, but with the addition of guitarist Indy Dibongue from Cameroon who, like Allen, contributes an indispensable African sound to this palette. 11 excellent players in total would finally deliver The Source, including one notable guest: Damon Albarn, who adds an ethereal piano part to “Cool Cats.”
The album sparkles in the variety of its timbres and the diversity of its colors. Each of the 11 instrumental tracks—all new originals co-written by Allen and Jankielewicz—bring forward a particular instrument: Giraud's trumpet on “Bad Roads”; the bass of Allamane on “Crusin’”; Dary's piano inside “On Fire,” and Sciuto's bari sax on “Woro Dance.” With “Cool Cats,” it's the turn of Elangue and his tenor, while Zimmerman's trombone is featured on “Wolf Eats Wolf.” And throughout, Tony’s indelible signature, a unique way of hitting skins or a cymbal, its main characteristics a caressing, almost ethereal energy, and a formidable efficiency.