JazzTimes is honored to premiere the video of “Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)” by two African music legends: Nigerian drummer Tony Allen and the late South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The track will appear on a collaborative album called Rejoice, scheduled to be released March 20 by the newly relaunched World Circuit Records. This is the first music of Masekela’s to be released since his passing in 2018.
“Never” pays tribute to another African music master—and Allen’s former employer—the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Masekela sings and plays flugelhorn, while Allen handles drums and percussion. They’re joined by Lewis Wright on vibraphone, Joe Armon-Jones on keyboards, Lekan Babalola on percussion, and twi bassists: Tom Herbert and Mutale Chashi.
Masekela and Allen began recording Rejoice together in London during 2010 with producer Nick Gold (Buena Vista Social Club). Allen and Gold revisited the unfinished sessions following Masekela’s death with the blessing of his estate, going back to the same London studio where they had started the project. Other musicians on the album include tenor saxophonist Steve Williamson and keyboardist Elliot Galvin.
Allen says of this track: “Fela was like a brother to me. He was a true genius and I worked with him for 15 years because I believed in him so much. When Hugh and I were recording this song, Hugh immediately wanted to sing. He was singing for his friend. He and Fela were close, they had a lot in common. It was a friendship even more than a musical thing, and yes, of course, they were both political animals.”