The fourth installment in Strut's Inspiration Information series pairs two innovators, Afro-beat drummer Tony Allen, and the ever-mercurial Finnish musical chameleon Jimi Tenor -- with members of Tenor's large Kabu Kabu band and Daniel Givens. The set was recorded in Paris and in Finland, and includes a wide range of funk, Afro-beat, jazz, beat-conscious rock, and dub-wise reggae. It's all groove conscious, however. Check the opener "Against the Wall," with its Afro-beat grooves, funky breaks, horns and bassline pumping out a dark minor-key vamp as guitars snake their way inside the melody. Moody and swampy, it is turned around by a hilarious rap, and the mood turns decidedly funky. "Sinuwe" and "Got My Egusi Fix" offer two sides of Afro-beat funkiness. On the former, it begins on the bluesy tip with a kalimba, Allen's drums, a Wurlitzer piano, an electric guitar atop the bassline, and the male and female chorus line chanting in call and response. On the latter, a fat horn section -- heavy on the tenor and baritone saxes -- creates a vamp that is double-timed by Allen's drums and aided by hand percussion, as vibes, bass, and guitar slither underneath. The vocals appear in syncopated rhythmic lines in both English and Nigerian. Tenor appears to be the musical director of this wooly ensemble which effortlessly slides from tracks like the aforementioned to the stellar jazz of "Path to Wisdom." with a killer spiritual rap by Allonymous, and the ritualistic percussion jams in "Cella's Walk," where dub effects, Tenor's saxophone, an organ, and even a flute allow themselves to be spirits guided by Allen's astonishing kit work. "Selfish Gene" is pure reggae goodness, with its beautiful Wurlitzer organ and a purposely out-of-key but utterly soulful Tenor vocal. As always, Allen double-times, even in his breaks, but the bassline, guitars, and organ bubble along with a sweet minor-key melody line. Tenor's spindly vocal also graces "The Darker Side of Night," which is highlighted by one of the hippest, funkiest flute solos this side of '70s-era Hubert Laws. What Inspiration Information, Vol. 4 reveals is that Allen and Tenor are not only natural collaborators, but that they should work together again -- and soon. This set may be the strongest release in the series thus far; it leaves the listener wanting more...much more.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek