Jazz Beyond | “No Beginning” by Tony Allen and Adrian Younge


Mike Merucci, Entertainment Editor

Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Adrian Younge is set to release the 18th edition of he and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Jazz Is Dead, this time featuring legendary drummer Tony Allen. The late Allen, who Brian Eno described as “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived,” died in 2020, but even in death, his music continues to bloom throughout the popular consciousness.

Allen is viewed as one of the founders of the Afrobeat genre, having developed the beginnings of its sound with Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. On “No Beginning,” — the latest lead single from Jazz Is Dead 018 — those roots wrap around the track’s many rises and falls, meshing the foundations built by Allen and Kuti’s trailblazing band, Africa 70, with free and avant-garde jazz. 

It’s difficult for one not to swing their arms up and down with the rhythm of “No Beginning.” Within its 2 minute, 42 second runtime are 13 musicians and even more instruments. Through its hills and valleys run gentle shimmers and rattles — little creatures constantly met by drums shooting up in addictive plumes. Saxophones coat the grounds these drums rise from, providing a fertile base for the rest of the musicians to thrive upon. In the end, a trumpet soars through, completing a vibrant and diverse landscape. 

“No Beginning” serves as a lovely companion to Jazz Is Dead 018’s other lead single, “Don’t Believe The Dancers,” and to the album opener, “Ebun,” which first appeared on Jazz Is Dead 011. “Don’t Believe The Dancers” is smooth and fast-walking, a lively track where instruments constantly peek out from a thick foliage of sounds. “Ebun” is where “No Beginning” and “Don’t Believe The Dancers” meet, an exciting opener to Jazz Is Dead 018, which releases July 7.