The fourth release from Kanaga System Krush. A Fair Trade World Music label featuring Traditional and Contemporary West African musicians. We have been recording in Mali the last four years. Our label is dedicated to preserving Traditional music from Mali. We have raised the bar in field recording with professional multi track digital recordings, which are then mixed at one of the top recording studios in Northern California. At the same time, we are all over the modern music scene playing, studying,and recording. We feel this gives us a fresh more inside perspective for producing Traditonal and Contemporary music from some of Mali's most talented artists.
Zani Diabate is a Griot. Known in their own land as Djeli, Griots are the traditional historians of the Manding culture of ancient Mali. They preserve the lengthy family lineages, recount battles, and extol the good deeds of kings, nobles and the righteous. This is done through storytelling, poetry, song, and music. In older times, every royal and noble family throughout the empire had a Djeli as a historian/adviser. One can not simply become a Griot, they are a social class distinct in their own rights, and the only entrance into this class is birth to a Djeli family. Beginning with Balla Fasake Kouyaté, Djeli to the founding King of the Manding Empire, Sundiata Keita, the tradition has been passed from father to son for over eight hundred years. However, this time frame only accounts for the years since Sundiata established the Djeli as a recognized social class. In all likelihood, the archetype of the Griot is as old as organized kingdoms themselves.
Head of the National Ballet of Mali
Zani Diabate was born in 1949 to a Djeli family. He began studying Dununba during the last years of colonization at the age of ten. In 1961, Mali's first year of Independence, at the age of twelve, Zani was performing with Troupe Folklorique, L’Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, and L’Orchestre National. By 1963, Zani was becoming renowned as a percussionist, dancer, comedian, and a choreographer. He specialized in playing Djembe, Bongulo, Chun, and Dununba. As the years progressed, Zani became an expert on all the instruments available in Mali. In 1966, Zani first learned to play guitar. That same year he took part in the Festival Des Artes Negre, in Dakar. During the early seventies, he formed several bands, but it was not until the mid-seventies that Zani and his friends, Badian Kouate, (Bass), Daouda Sangare, (Singer), and Allou Fame, (Kamelan N’goni), performed at the Club Sportif (now Carrefour Des Jeunes). From these sessions the famous Super Djata Band was formed, which currently continues to play both inside and outside of Mali.
Zani is regarded as an expert in all of the Manding musical genres and many of the instruments from Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. He has accompanied many of Mali’s most famous musicians, including Banzoumana Sissoko, Sramoro Diabaté, and Mamadou Badioun Kouyaté, also his counselor, mentor and spiritual teacher. He continues to work as Director of the Ballet National of Mali, while also serving as the National Minister of Culture as part of his ongoing campaign for the survival of the rich and varied music of the Manding world. "It is good to know other people’s culture, but even better to know one’s self." Zani advises the young musicians of Mali and beyond.
Zani is a patient and knowledgeable teacher whose students have performed on the five continents of the world. His talent as an international artist was acquired through his many world tours with the Ballet National, which has performed the world over. Zani has received many titles and decorations from the Government of Mali, honoring his achievements as one of the first and best artists to promote Malian culture at the international level. Presently Zani is Commandeur Des Les Ordre National- a decoration which recognizes him as a national hero, a musician who has strived, through music, for the welfare and dignity of his nation.