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African musicians span country

African Guitar Summit kicks off the 2005-06 Performance Series at MY Place



What: African Guitar Summit

Where: MY Millennium Place

When: Friday, Nov. 18

Music fans may have caught multiple-Juno-Award-winning Alpha Ya Ya Diallo’s world music at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival or at one of his sold-out shows at the Boot, but never have Whistlerites heard his African beats take on such deep roots as they will at the African Guitar Summit performance Friday, Nov. 18 at MY Millennium Place.

Alpha will join eight other African music legends to share the depth and breadth of African music, including Naby Camara, Pa Joe, Theo Boakye, Kofi Ackah, Adam Solomon, Mighty Popo, Donne Robert and fellow multiple-Juno-Award-winner Madagascar Slim.

"We wanted to bring some African musicians together who established their name in this society to show the diversity of African culture and music from different parts of Africa," Ya Ya Diallo said.

"Music is a tool of communication. We had a very good time learning from one another. I have five albums of my own, but sometimes it is good to share and play with other people, to learn and to give and share your style of music."

Stronger in numbers than alone, the recording of the nine-strong ensemble, entitled African Guitar Summit, won World Music Album of the Year at the 2005 Juno Awards.

Ya Ya Diallo brings a Spanish-style classical guitar to the mix, a style prevalent in western Africa.

"You don’t always get to show people that African music has a gentle side," he said. "It is not always jumping and dancing. (One of my musical styles) is more classical, acoustic with more soft songs and very nice melody."

Ya Ya Diallo is most famous for his ability to bridge traditional African music with contemporary.

"Alpha Ya Ya Diallo achieves with (The Journey album) what most African musicians have failed to do: he has created a classy Afro-pop synthesis of the continent’s musical forms with western technology that won’t infuriate purists," wrote a Vancouver Sun critic.

However, for this special collective performance, the musicians will leave all electronic instruments behind to give breathing room for more traditional sounds.

"An important part of the album was to play African music and to incorporate some traditional African music without too much electric instruments – no keyboard or drum set – a completely ethnic sample of African music," he said.

"The objective of (the show) is to show African music’s diversity. It’s a way to bring people together. Canada is quite a big country. (The album) was an opportunity for everyone to get around the same table, the same studio and discuss what is possible. I had a very good time."

The African Guitar Summit kicks off the 2005-06 Performance Series. Other acts include Ache Brasil with Afro-Brazilian dance Dec. 27, Uzume Taiko with martial arts drummers Jan. 18, and Cuban sensation D’Talle with nine vivacious women Feb. 14.

The African Guitar Summit performance starts at 8 p.m. The public is invited to attend a community cocktail reception at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Call 604-935-8410 or visit www.myplacewhistler.org for tickets.