Artist Profiles: Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabaté

Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabaté with Famoro Dioubate at Cat's Cradle in North Carolina - Photo by Angel Romero
Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabaté with Famoro Dioubate at Cat’s Cradle in North Carolina – Photo by Angel Romero

Guitarist and singer Abdoulaye Diabaté (also known as Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabaté and Djoss Diabaté) was born in Kela, Mali, to the Diabaté family. A clan renowned as battlefield jelis (griots); they would accompany the warriors in battle to recount what took place. They are reputed as powerful vocalists.

Raised in the heart of the Mande tradition, Abdoulaye spent two decades performing contemporary and traditional music. His career led him to a fusion of these styles. In 1973 he joined the Tenetemba Jazz in Bamako, Mali. Later still, he was noted as the lead singer of the Koule Star Band of Kuchala.

In 1975 he moved to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he formed his group: Super Mande in which some of the greatest luminaries of West African music circulated as band members: Salif Keita, Mory Kante, Kante Manfila, Ousmane Kouyate and many more. In 1978, Super Mande released its first recording: Wahabia-Ke Daschi. The album was banned from airplay because the title song criticized some “marabout” religious leaders.

Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabaté at Cat's Cradle in North Carolina - Photo by Angel Romero
Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabaté at Cat’s Cradle in North Carolina – Photo by Angel Romero
In 1992, he joined the famous Ballets Koteba as a singer and guitarist and toured the world playing guitar with Les Go de Koteba.

In New York since 1996, he was noted in 2002 as one of the stars of the Smithsonian Folkways compilation: Badenya, Manden Jaliya in New York City, he was featured on the cover of the album.

Since then, he has made collaborations with jazzmen Don Byron and Peter Apfelbaum and with guitarist-journalist Banning Eyre.

In 2005, under the name Djoss Diabate, he released his first American album: Haklima.

Abdoulaye Diabaté is a member of several New York City world music and African jazz collectives and bands, including Fula Flute and Source.


Wahabiadachi, with Super Mande

Badenya: Manden Jaliya in New York City (Smithsonian Folkways compilation, (2002)

It Is Written, with Peter Apfelbaum & the New York Hieroglyphics (2005)

Haklima (2005)

Tonight’s African Jazz Band, with Source (Completelly Nuts Records, 2006)

Stories to Tell, with Sean Noonan (Songlines, 2007)

Boxing Dreams, with Sean Noonan (Songlines, 2008)

Sara (Completelly Nuts Records, 2009)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


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