While visiting Nigeria in 1970, James Brown was so thoroughly impacted by a Fela Anikulapo-Kuti concert that he made his music director brave the onstage din just to transcribe drummer Tony Allen’s complex foot patterns. From his stint in Koola Lobitos in the ’60s to his work with Africa 70 in the ’70s, Allen helped define Fela’s vibrant Afro-Beat sound—a fusion of highlife, juju, jazz, and funk. Although the percussionist’s polyrhythmic loops send classic Fela albums like 1973’s Gentleman and 1977’s Sorrow Tears and Blood into the stratosphere, it has been on his own records that the percussionist has really gotten on his good foot. Albums like 1975’s Jealousy, 1977’s Progress, and 1979’s No Accommodation for Lagos place a solid emphasis on rhythm, featuring Allen’s economic, Art Blakey-influenced drum solos amidst a lattice of brass and electric guitar. In the early ’80s, Allen moved from Africa to Europe, where he released the impressive No Discrimination and N.E.P.A. (“Never Expect Power Always”) and worked with Roy Ayers, Sunny Ade, and Manu Dibango. But Allen’s 1999 comeback, Black Voices, featuring vocalists Mudbone Cooper and Clip Payne of the P-Funk All Stars, may be his strongest record yet. Melding Afro-Beat’s rhythms and melodic textures—lots of electric piano, rubbery bass, and muted electric guitar—with the studio wizardry of dub reggae, Black Voices proves that Allen still has plenty to say. He performs at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $10. (202) 667-7960. (Brent Burton)