Zani Diabaté (1947-2011)
& le Super Djata Band

Zani Diabaté, prominent guitar player in the Super Djata Band, one of the most popular bands from Bamako during the 1980s, joined the Ballet National in 1963, where he sang, danced and played guitar, kora, balafon and percussion. In his spare time, he would play in Harmonica Jazz, where he played harmonica, and later he formed the Ganoua Band with Daouda Sangaré on kamalen n'goni and on vocals, and with Maré Sanogo on djembé.
In the early 1970s, the Ganoua Band was appointed the third National Orchestra of Mali (Formation C). When they were left without work, Zani and his fellow band members decided to switch to a private band which they named (Super) Djata Band. It was in 1974 that they started recording for Radio Mali.

Prominent singer Daouda "Flani" Sangaré was invited to join the Ballet National in 1968, where he introduced his friend Alou Fané. The two recorded more traditional influenced kamalen n'goni music together for Radio Mali in 1968, a recording that was later released by the Ivorian label Disco Club Bagoué.

The sound of Super Djata, based on the, compared to the mellow malinke sound of for instance the Rail Band, hard hitting Bambara rhythms and melodies, is highly coloured by the outstanding guitar playing by Zani Diabaté.

Since the late 1980s, band members Dounanké Koita and Bamba Dembélé left the Super Djata Band and started solo careers. Zani was appointed since a few years as the director of the National Ballet du Mali and played only occasionally. He left the Super Djata Band to his son. Sadly, Zani passed away in January 2011 after brain damage he suffered from a stroke on 9 December 2010, when entering a Paris studio in order to record with his son and Flani's son. Flani, Alou and his brother Bakary preceded him years ago.

Zani Live 1987
 Zani Live 1987 

• Band members in 1987:
Zani Diabaté († 4 January 2011) lead guitar;
Daouda "Flani" Sangaré († 12 January 2008) lead vocals;
Alou Fané († 1994) vocals;
Mamadou "Johnny" Diabaté vocals;
Dounanké Koita guitar;
Abou Camara bass;
Bamba Dembélé congas;
Bakary Diabaté (Zani's younger brother, † around 1988) percussion / balafon;
Lamoussa Diabaté drums;
Mamadou "Gorguy" Sylla sax

Zani was born: 1947
Super Djata was created: 1969 as Ganoua Band, then Orchestre National C, and finally as Super Djata
Style: modernised bambara music

Title Year Label Remarks
Tientalaw 2012 Stern's Music STCD 1113 Zani's last recordings
Kabako Zani 2008 Kanaga System Krush KSK Acoustic recording
Ni Zani Mana 200? Mali K7 S.A. Cassette
Super Djata 1988 Mango CID 9899 Originally released in 1985 by Milady Music (France)
Live 1987? Milady Music 10023 LP, recorded in March 1987 in Amsterdam
Zani Diabaté et le Super Djata Band 1985 Milady Music MM 85-1001 LP
Vol. 3 1983 Omogidi Music OMG 004 First pressing was labelled vol.2
Volume 2 1983 Musique Mondiale MAD 004 LP
Le Super Djata Band du Mali - en super forme 1982 Musique Mondiale MAD 003 LP
Volume 2 1982 Discorama ML 02 LP
Authentique 80 1980 Discorama ML 01 LP
• Radio Africa Discography of Malian vinyl recordings, compiled by Graeme Counsel [link...] (retrieved 2005)

Page added February 1998