Tony Allen

For a very groovy decade, drummer Tony Allen helped his boss Fela Kuti carve the sound of Afrobeat in the famed band Africa ’70, for which Allen served as music director. His playing, Kuti noticed, resembled the work not of a single drummer, but of four men. His recent album Secret Agent divides lead vocals among a half-dozen singers, yet the prevailing voice remains the percussion: improbably busy but never showy, arty and cerebral but always devoted to vital concerns of the booty.