Two years after South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela’s death, the result of his 2010 studio sessions with Nigerian drummer, composer and songwriter, Tony Allen were finally released in 2020.
Allen was one of the primary co-founders of Afrobeat music, and has been described by Brian Eno as “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived”.
The entire Rejoice album was recorded and mixed by producer Sonny Johns – aside from the first day of recording on the original session, where the session was set up by Jerry Boys. Johns had been Boys’ assistant engineer for approximately three years prior to this, and had previously mixed the Tony Allen album ‘Secret Agent’.
All tracks were recorded and mixed in Livingston Studios 1 & 2 approximately 11 years ago with Allen and his bass player Rudy – who laid down the basis of the tracks in Studio 1, while Allen worked on them in Studio 2, coming up with flugelhorn lines and chants. When Allen and Rudy took a break, Masekela used this time to record his parts over the top.
“It then sat untouched for 10 years until last year Nick wanted to do something with it, spurred on somewhat by Hugh’s death as well as encouragement from Tony,” said Johns. “We then went about rerecording the bass (as we wanted a double bass rather than the original electric bass) with Mutale Chashi in Studio 1 and Tom Herbert in Studio 2, and further added Lekan Babalolo on percussion and Steve Williamson on tenor sax in Studio 1, Lewis Wright on vibraphone and Joe Armon-Jones on electric piano in Studio 2, and Elliot Galvin on synths from his home setup.”
Rejoice was then edited and mixed in Livingston Studio 2, and Johns’ mix room at The Nave Studios in Leeds. The Livingston sessions were assisted by Miloco assistant engineers Henri Davies, Marcus Locock and Luke Farnell.
Allen commented that he was delighted about the way the album came out – particularly the way his drums sounded in the room, and that he’d finally managed to make an album with Masekela after forming the idea approximately 30 years ago.
Just a month after the album’s release, we tragically lost the life of Tony Allen, only two years after we lost Hugh Masekela. Allen’s influence on music across the world cannot be overstated, his groundbreaking work with Fela Kuti laying the groundwork for Afrobeat, and his collaborations varying from artists such as Damon Albarn, Grace Jones, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jeff Mills.
Click the badge in the header to listen to Rejoice on Apple Music, or stream on Spotify below.