Best Artist Winner

Best Artist: Tony Allen

Album: Film of Life on Jazz Village

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Click to listenTo sustain artistic creativity over half a century is a rare achievement and so it was remarkable that Tony Allen should mark the 50th anniversary of his first encounter with Fela Kuti with the release of one of the finest albums of his career. Their 1964 meeting, of course, led to the musical revolution that was Afrobeat, and on 2014's Film of Life, Allen paid homage to his illustrious past but moved expansively into fresh territory with a thrilling melange of tribal grooves, jazz and funk.

"It's still Afrobeat but I cannot repeat the same things," he told Songlines in #104. "I want people to know I've not grown stagnant and I'm giving it a new twist." Key to Allen's best work as a drummer and bandleader over the years has been his choice of collaborators.

On Film of Life they include Damon Albarn, with whom - like Fela Kuti - Allen claims a "telepathic" understanding. "It broadens my knowledge to work with people like that. I've got everything to gain by taking up the challenge," he says. It's a hell of an attitude at 74 years young.

Nigel Williamson