Roy Ayers has had a career that has spanned over parts of six decades. He has played with a countless number of musicians, and has an immense catalog that rivals the most esteemed names in jazz. One can make the argument that there are other musicians that have been playing since the 1960s, or that other jazz musicians have crossed multiple genres. Yes, that is true. There are musicians in jazz that have had a career that has spanned the amount of time that Roy’s has, but there is one thing that Roy Ayers has done that no other jazz musician has done, and that’s recording an album with the king of afrobeat, Fela Kuti. In 1980, they recorded the album entitled Music of Many Colors, which could possibly be one of the greatest collaborations ever.
Let’s be honest. Music of Many Colors does have its shortcomings. The entire album is two songs, which is a bit of a disappointment, only because you want to hear more from these two artists. And if you are a fan of both Fela and Roy, you could agree that they have both made better songs. BUT… sometimes you have to remove yourself as the critical analyst and just absorb the historical context of music, the common message, and the realize the miracle of two great musicians being in the same space. Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti are planets aligning.
To this day, Roy Ayers speaks about Fela Kuti with the utmost respect and extreme praise, and to honor him, Roy Ayers has recorded songs using Fela’s patented Afrobeat. One of Roy Ayers’ personal favorite songs is Black Family, which has the blueprint of Fela’s sound:
In this day and age, a collaboration consists of shuffling through a beat CD, rapping over the freshest beat, and if the beat maker is lucky, he’ll get $100, a thank you email, and a (prod. by…) credit. In this case, Roy and Fela were not only friends, the played shows together, recorded together, and shared the same philosophies, and Music of Many Colors is a direct reflection of their common bond. Enjoy this rare album. It is a blessing that it was recorded and documented for us to enjoy today.
Written by: @Haylow