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World Music CD Reviews Africa

ALPHA YAYA DIALLO

By Chris Rubin
Published June 22, 2006

The Journey
Jericho Beach Music

Alpha Yaya Diallo makes his home in Vancouver, Canada, these days, but the Guinean native stays true to his roots, creating joyous, pan-African music. Given Diallo’s near-nomadic childhood, it’s not surprising that he leaps from one style to the next so easily, from mbalax to soukous to juju and beyond, with such ease and authority. Diallo, in fact, has his own hybrid sound that combines the best of King Sunny Ade and Youssou N’Dour: the gentle-as-rain vocals of the former with the galloping rhythms of the latter, topped with his own remarkable singing and deft guitar work. Also integral to the sound is the skilled, supple bass of Brian Newcombe, who brings a jazz sensibility to the mix. The subject matter varies as widely as the musical styles, from a plea for the rights of African women to the attachment we feel for our place of birth, but one constant is the almost giddy, ecstatic music, driven by superb percussion and virtuoso guitar playing, whether in lead or finger-picking style. For his musical creativity as well as his expressive voice and electrifying guitar playing, Diallo ranks easily among the most exciting and appealing African artists to ever hit the United States.