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Famoudou Don Moye and Tatsu Aoki: A Symphony of Cities

Mark F. Turner By

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The right or wrong combination of elements in music can have successful or unpleasant results. As in any mixture: too much or too little may affect the final outcome. When the right blend of musicianship and instrumental elements are successfully combined; true art emerges. Such is the case with A Symphony of Cities which features totally improvised music by master musicians: percussionist Famoudou Don Moye and bassist Tatsu Aoki.

The combining forces of ‘Sun’ percussionist Moye from the acclaimed avant-garde group Art Ensemble of Chicago and renowned composer-bassist Aoki who leads the Miyumi Project Big Band bring diverse yet unified parts to the project just as a symphony which combines many elements. Both Chicago musicians are from different urban origins. Aoki is from Tokyo and Moye’s hometown is Rochester NY. Add into the talent mix, saxophonist Francis Wong from San Francisco and flautist Joel Brandon from Los Angeles, and the theme is realized for A Symphony of Cities.

The recording begins with the 24-minute percussive selection “Afro Asian Reflections” executed by Moye and Aoki, which evolves like a trek on an ancient passageway with the ageless sounds of tribal drums, gongs, and an array of other unusual instruments. Their musical prowess reveals their instrumental mastery with an awesome display of skill and intensity on composition “Promise” which is a showcase for an extraordinary bass and drum workout. Global urbanites Brandon and Wong enter the soundscape on the third selection “Ode To Wilbur Ware” with warm intensity on the sax and flute. The music combines African and Asian influences along with a strong “free jazz” mentality as is evident on the tour de force composition “Tokyomad Tonal Efficiency.”

The sound of this recording is also a real treat as each instrument’s powerful and intricate voice comes through and transports the listener to another environment. The infectious percussion and interesting rhythms combined with a global yet urban flavor make A Symphony of Cities a unique and rewarding musical experience.




Track Listing: Afro Asian Reflections; Promise; Ode to Wilbur Ware; TokyoMad Tonal Efficiency; Soba Soba.

Personnel: Famoudou Don Moye- drums, percussion; Tatsu Aoki- acoustic bass, percussion; Francis Wong- tenor saxophone on "Ode to Wilbur Ware" and "TokyoMad Tonal Efficiency;" Joel Brandon- flute on TokyoMad Tonal Efficiency," flute & whistling on "Ode to Wilbur Ware."

Title: A Symphony Of Cities | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Southport Records

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