2000 Blacks Got to be Free (feat. Roy Ayers)
Africa Centre of the World (feat. Roy Ayers)
After touring Nigeria together in 1979, African funk innovator Fela Kuti and American jazz-funk maestro Roy Ayers decided to commemorate their partnership with the 1980 album Music of Many Colours. In the fashion of Kuti’s releases, each side of the album contains one long song. In the first, Ayers’ band is joined by the choir from Fela’s band, while in the second, Ayers contributes vibraphone to a track by the Africa 70. Musically, the two didn’t just gel; they fueled each other. Neither changed to accommodate the other, but each drew on the other’s strengths. “2000 Blacks Got To Be” is a percolating disco song in classic Ayers mold, but supercharged by the insurgent energy of Nigeria. “Africa - Centre of the World” is even more epic. As the Africa 70 rolls out a regal, steel-eyed groove, Ayers’ vibraphone hovers, a symbol of ancient juju. The song affirms the African roots of Ayers’ instrument, and also serves as an illustration of the reciprocal relationship between black music in America and black music in Africa during the ‘70s.