Idrissa Diop, Cheikh Tidiane Tall, Diamonoye tiopité: L’époque de l’évolution

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 01.04.12 in Reviews

Lots of African musicians have moved to France, and Dakar vocalist Idrissa Diop was no exception, departing in 1976. But he’d made a lot of lovely music prior to that — not all of it released until this collection, the first from the Athens-based, Senegal-oriented Teranga Beat label — that act as a bridge between the smooth Cubanisms of Senegalese pop’s early years (“In Dakar, there was traditional music and there was Latin music,” Diop says in the set’s liner notes) and the rougher, electric-in-all-ways mbalax that Youssou N’Dour would eventually take global.

The roots of Senegalese mbalax

The first three tracks on Diamonoye tiopité: L’époque de l’évolution come from Diop’s first album in 1969 — ingratiating, loping, very Cuban, and in sequence increasingly soul-like: loud guitar solo and snaking horns on “Tioro Baye Thierno,” more from-the-gut singing and intense organ break on “Yaye Boye.” A pair of hypnotic tracks left off of 1975′s Bamba set the table for that album’s title song: eight minutes, a 1-2-3 (pause) 4-5 riff over stop-start drums and darting horns, vocals more declared than sung — an instant classic.

Diamonoye tiopité‘s final three tracks, recorded a year after Bamba and also unreleased, point even more strongly at the musical revolution N’Dour and his band Etoile de Dakar would effect. The tape “Diamonoye Têye” was found on has its defects, but the music isn’t one of them.