The great African guitarist Zani Diabaté was in a studio in Paris in December 2010, putting the finishing touches on an album he had recorded in Bamako, Mali, when he suffered a heart attack, guitar in hand. With him were his son and the sons of Alou Fané and Flani Sangaré, his colleagues for more than three decades in the Super Djiata Band. The young men were members of the new band that Diabaté had formed, Les Héritiers (trans. "The Heirs"), and they were at his side when he died in a Paris hospital on January 5, 2011. He was 63 years old. It was characteristic of Zani Diabaté to be leading a band of young singers and instrumentalists when most of his contemporaries had retired or preceded him in death. For he was a griot of the Mande people -- in fact, a scion of one of the most famous Mande griot families, the Diabatés -- and the primary role of the griot is to preserve the knowledge of generations past and teach it to the generations that follow. He himself had learned from his father and uncles, not only the history of the Mande people but also the music. The young Zani was taught to drum and dance and to play the kora (harp) and bala (xylophone). These skills all influenced his distinctive guitar style, which married rhythm and melody in bold and often surprising ways. When Diabaté, Fané and Sangaré formed the Super Djata Band de Bamako in the 1960s, they modernized and expanded the jaliyah forms of Mande griot tradition, drawing from other West African genres and American blues and rock. They were among the artists, including Salif Keita and Mory Kanté, that introduced modern Malian music to America when Mango Records (Island) released Zani Diabaté & Super Djata Band in 1988. However, Super Djata remained more a national treasure than a global phenomenon, partly because Diabaté embraced his responsibility as a griot to teach his skills to students. Thus, his project with Les Héritiers and the album that resulted, Tientalaw. This is the sound of a torch being passed to a new generation. It is the music not of a dying man, but of an artist in full possession of his musical powers, invigorated by his talented young students. Ranging from serene acoustic jaliyah to fiery electric Afro-pop, this album is testament of the art of Zani Diabaté.