PBS Short Film Festival.
Hopefully, Okeyo extensively recorded Allen, both in performances and interviews, while he had the chance. Sadly, the great drummer passed away on April 30th, but his legendary powers were not the slightest bit diminished when he performed and recorded with the Chicago Afrobeat Project. Several bandmembers duly express what an honor and thrill it was to collaborate with Allen, but they clearly have some pretty funky chops themselves.
Okeyo and co-cinematographer Michael Gabriele shot the film in black-and-white, which well suits the vibe of Chicago’s gritty and edgy jazz scene. He also incorporates some retro-style animation to illustrate Allen’s Afrobeat creation story. Everything about the film is very cool. The only problem is it is just too short. Allen could easily carry a full-length feature documentary, so hopefully that is what Okeyo ultimately has in mind.
Birth of Afrobeat certainly leaves viewers wanting more, so go explore the music of Allen, Fela Kuti, The Chicago Afrobeat Project, and Max Roach too. Highly recommended as s neat thing to watch on the internet (but seriously, we want too see it expanded), The Birth of Afrobeat screens online through July 24th, as the best selection of the PBS Short Film Festival.