Both before and since his arrival in Canada in the early 1990s, Alpha Yaya Diallo has been bringing the dynamic sounds, rhythms and energy of the Bafing River region and his Guinean homeland to Canadian and international audiences. This three-time Juno Award-winning guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer has garnered huge success across this country, known for his instrumental and musical skills as well as his ability to deliver electrifying live shows.
This fall, in a ground-breaking performance project, Diallo takes the experience of his music to a new level with the creation of the West African Summit. On stage for a nine-city national tour that includes a Saturday, December 1 performance at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre, musicians and dancers come together to take audiences on a musical journey into the music, rhythms, movement and energy of Guinea, Senegal and Mali.
To accomplish the West African Summit, Diallo has joined forces with acclaimed director and award-winning choreographer, Alejandro Ronceria to create an innovative production. “I wanted to showcase West African music in a new way, to create a big, fantastic show that mixes traditional instruments and music together with contemporary sounds, and that features the kora – a very beautiful and important instrument in West Africa. I wanted to assemble some very talented musicians and dancers, and to work for the first time with Alejandro Ronceria, a brilliant choreographer and dance, theatre and multi-media artist who is originally from Colombia – a place rich in music and dance styles from many cultures. We are joining our talents and passion to create something exciting, energetic and original together – a show that shares this incredible music and culture, a show that will blow people away”, said Diallo. In addition to the sound of the kora, the show’s traditional instrumentation includes the ngoni, balafon and percussion which combine on stage with more modern instruments like the guitar and bass.
In addition to bandleader, musician and vocalist Diallo, the show’s all-star musicians and dancers are renowned artists in their own right. They includes two masters of traditional African music: Naby Camara (balafon) is known as the “Milt Jackson of the balafon”, an incredible musician with an uncanny ability to become at-one with the dancers with whom he performs, and Prince Diabaté, one of the most accomplished kora players performing outside Africa today. Diabaté has played the kora since he was six years old, and has toured throughout the world. The band also features Thomas Ehru Niamke (drums) and Vegari Cendar (bass). They are joined by N’nato Camara and Mariama Camara, two of African music’s finest traditional dancers.
Together, this extraordinary artistic team and troupe promise a musical experience that goes beyond a concert, beyond a show to deliver a true glimpse into the heart, the beauty, power and sheer energy of West African music.
West African Summit’s nine-city national tour begins in Toronto on November 16, with performances in Montreal, Saskatchewan and Alberta before coming to BC. Tickets for Vancouver’s December 1 show at the Rio are at Highlife Records and www.brownpapertickets.com