Singer-guitarist Toby Foyeh has scored two hit singles in his native Nigeria, but he also has a Washington connection: A former Howard University music student, Foyeh brings his 10-piece ensemble, Orchestra Africa, to town regularly. The group's free concert this Saturday, sponsored by the National Museum of African Art, is its third Washington performance in less than a year. In addition, the band's second Nigerian album, "Jalolo," was recently released in the U.S. by a Washington-area label.
Like most West African pop, "Jalolo" is exuberantly eclectic, mixing traditional Yoruba music with reggae, funk, Latin jazz and many other styles from the African diaspora. The album's pace slackens for "Ohun Afin," a tune sung by female vocalist Biola Oyenekan that sounds like a sappy Asian-pop ballad with just a hint of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry." But most of the songs feature such characteristic Afropop elements as call-and-response vocals and the chiming, high-pitched tones of tuned percussion and picked guitar, which come together with particular aplomb on the title track.
"Jalolo" is not as forceful as the best work of such Nigerian legends as Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade, but it has far more life than most of today's pasteurized Anglo-American pop.
Appearing Saturday at the S. Dillon Ripley Center lecture hall.
* To hear a free Sound Bite from Toby Foyeh, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8102. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)