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This Day: March 8

March 8, 2010

On this day in 1993, Fela Kuti was arrested again on suspicion of murder relating to a body found near his house. He was not convicted, the latest in a long line of arrests by the Nigerian Government.

This is not the place to go to far into the Fela Kuti story – it is well told elsewhere, but I would like to highlight an intriguing encounter he had ten years before his arrest. In 1983, he jammed on stage with Jetho Tull’s Iain Anderson in 1983. Discovering this video surprises me. Kuti jamming with Jack Bruce – here playing keyboards – yes; but Anderson?

I’ve long had a soft spot for Tull, having first heard “Thick As A Brick” when I was in my mid-teens (not long after I first heard “Tubular Bells”: this was the year both albums held 20th anniversaries), plus a girl I met a few years later owned most of Tull’s back catalogue.

Of course Anderson as improviser is not such a surprise, considering how many flute solos he’s produced over the years – especially fiery solos not normally keeping with the flute’s polite demeanour. But playing over a tight rock band is different from weaving in and out of Fela Kuti’s instrumental tapestry, and Anderson doesn’t sound out-of-place. Maybe Tull should have used the 80s to go freer instead of poppier.

So Afro-beat flute. Enjoy.

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