Alpha YaYa Diallo The Message (Wicklow)
Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Dec. 31, 1999
Alpha YaYa Diallo
The Message (Wicklow)Former member of the West African group Fatala, Alpha Yaya Diallo throws his multi-instrumental hat in the expanding world music ring with The Message, his third solo release and first for Chieftain Paddy Maloney's Wicklow label. Born in the West African nation of Guinea in 1962, Diallo moved to the Canadian Amsterdam, Vancouver, B.C., after Fatala finished a North American tour in the early Nineties. Since then, Diallo has mixed his home sounds with the citizen-of-the-world music scene in Vancouver. So while on the The Message Diallo sings in the West African languages of Fula, colonizing French, Malinke, and Suso -- the brilliant, cry-moan-yell-smirk over the smooth and gleeful "Africa" is a good example -- he also throws jazz breaks in the Ali Farke Toure acoustic elegance of "Kakande," and a Celtic fiddle bridge in "Duniya." Diallo's vox isn't quite as distinct as that of Baaba Maal or Youssou N'Dour, but that permits Diallo, who could teach Beck, et al. a few things about real groove, to do something those West African international superstars can't: serve up potent harmony vocals as in the blistering, syncopated Latin rhythm of "Amour." There's more gems on The Message: the soukous swagger jamboree of "Vancouver Venez Voir," the balafon (acoustic xylophone) meltdown of "Badenma," and the rolling might of opener "Fissiriwaly," a cantering, funky West African jazz jam that transcends language. The Message not only proves that Diallo is a fine musician and band leader, it leaves no doubt he's also in his prime.