Thursday, November 12, 2009


Since I wrote about Fela Kuti yesterday, it seems only appropriate to take today to talk about the fourth volume in Strut Records’ Inspiration Information series. As is typical in the series, the album pairs up two artists unlikely to share a studio otherwise, typically and older artists with a more contemporary one. In this case, it’s eccentric SwedishFinnish electronic instrumentalist Jimi Tenor with Tony Allen, the former drummer and impromptu director for Kuti’s band Africa 70. Although I’ve really enjoyed every volume thus far in the series, this one has really caught hold of my ears.

That the resulting product seems more Allenish is not surprising if you’re not familiar with Tenor and his previous work. His last few outings, while still retaining his electronic elements, display a shift towards Afro-beat. That being said, pairing him with Allen seems less drastic then one might assume otherwise. Allen, of course, was partially responsible for the genesis of Afro-beat along with Kuti, so the sound here has his stamp all over it. Mix the new and the old, and you’ve got the fourth volume for the Inspiration Information series.

Although heavily indebted to Afro-beat, by no means does this album stop there. Tenor brings some of his personal touch to bear as well, and the resulting nine tracks mix the Afro-beat base with elements of jazz (check out the killer flute solo brought forth in The Darker Side of Night), reggae (hear Selfish Gene below for a wonderful example), funk (take your pick – the whole darn thing is funky), afro-lounge-exotica (it’s the best term I can use to describe Cella’s Walk), and even early proto-rap a la The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron (listen to Path To Wisdom, one of the album’s most unique tracks, to experience this).

At only ten tracks, the album really flies by, although each track does have its own particular character. One wouldn’t expect less from Allen, but it’s no doubt a refreshing introduction to Tenor for many listeners. Check out Selfish Gene below, then the album, and finally check out some of Tenor’s solo work.

and some solo work:

Visit the Strut Records Website.


Anonymous said...

Great great blog!

But Jimi Tenor is from Finland, not Sweden. He actually live few years in my neighborhood here in a city called Lahti.

Keep up the good work!

Sean said...

Thanks for the correction Anon!