The J&B Kings return with a “big love” shout out “Vice Grip” to Afrobeat co-founder and drummer Tony Allen, who passed away April 30, 2020.
It was Allen’s influence and leadership of Feta Kuti’s roaring ensemble from 1968-79 that introduced a new generation of music fans to music entwined with American jazz, highlife of Nigeria and Ghana and Yoruba music of the 1940s.
Allen hailed the “greatest drummer who ever lived” by sound architect Brian Eno, was revered across continents for his assured manner behind the kit. Never the hard-framed player like Brit Ginger Baker but more in line with the faultless trap playing of American jazz icon Philly Jo Jones.
In Kuti’s band, a song could roll a good forty minutes with short horn pops, a variety of keyboard underpinnings, steady guitar and long stretches of layered percussion. Time rode a wave – uninterrupted – one smooth, gentle glide the right temperature and tempo for Kuti’s lessons in political will and survival.
“Vice Grip” strikes a balance between the cool and heat of Afrobeat. The horns jump from the streets of Lagos. The organ – soul-jazz of American Jimmy Smith. The tenor solo – a classic mix of European, African and American jazz. A sound directly from Hitsville, USA – Motown.
The King’s divide duties. Jesse – drums, guitar, bass and percussion. Bill – organ, Wurlitzer piano and grinding clavinet and Booom Hornz – trumpet, trombone and sax. Both start with a blueprint and erect floor by floor from the foundation to the top penthouse suite – the best place to catch a view of the world and the distant horizon.
Vice Grip – composed Bill & Jesse King
Mixed at Renegade Studios: Bill & Jesse King
Produced by the J&B Kings
Jesse King – sound architect/ drums/bass / percussion / timbales /guitar
Bill King – organ/clavinet/wurli/horn co-arranger
Booom Hornz (Cédric Munsch & Romain Pivard)- trumpet, trombone, sax, horn co-arrangers