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Famoudou Don Moye

Famoudou Don Moye - drums, percussion

The man most associated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago as its percussion master, drummer extraordinaire Famoudou Don Moye was born on May 23, 1946, in Rochester, New York. In high school, he began playing drums, congas and bongos and went on to study percussion at Wayne State University.

In 1968, Moye toured Europe with the Detroit Free Jazz Band and worked briefly in Italy for RAI (Italian Radio and Television). While abroad, Moye had the opportunity to work with Steve Lacy, Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Sharrock, Randy Weston and Art Taylor and to collaborate extensively with Moroccan musicians.

Moye joined the innovative, avant-garde quintet, the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC), in 1969 and he has been a permanent member ever since. Moye and the other members of AEC draw their influence from both Africa and the Caribbean, rural as well as urban spaces - the whole spectrum of black music. Their radically experimental performances include painted faces, costumes and exotic instruments, which all contribute to their energetic improvisations. In addition to his work with AEC, Moye has been a member of The Leaders, and has recorded with the Black Artists Group, Joseph Jarman, Don Pullen, Cecil McBee, Hamiet Bluiet, Julius Hemphill, Chico Freeman and Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. He also leads the Sun Percussion Summit, a group dedicated to exploring the traditions of African American percussion music.

To offer up a brief look at his most recent releases, some which are reissues of his earlier work, we have; “Afrikan Song,” (’96) Sun Percussion Summit w/ Mamane Samake & Naby Camara. “Jam For Your Life,” (’97) re-issue w/Ari Brown, Billy Brimfield, and the late great Luba Raashiek & the late Kenny Prince on piano. “Calypso’s Smile,” (’98) re-issue series from 1992 sessions. This leads up to his 2002 effort; “A Symphony of Cities,” Experimental sound studies from percussion giant Don Moye and Chicago bass man Tatsu Aoki, with Francis Wong and Joel Brandon.

His recordings have won him the praise of critics at such esteemed publications as Rolling Stone, Down Beat, Melody Maker, The New York Times, Audio Magazine and Stereo Review. He was the winner of the Downbeat International Critics Poll in 1977, 1978 and 1982, and the New York Jazz Poll in 1979 and 1980. He received performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in both 1974 and 1981. He lives in Chicago, with his wife, Gloria, and their son, Bongo.


Album Review

Art Ensemble Of Chicago: The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris

Read "The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris" reviewed by John Sharpe

Having first come to international prominence in Paris at the end of the '60s, it seems fitting for the Rogue Art imprint to celebrate the Art Ensemble Of Chicago's progression into their sixth decade in the same city. This double CD documents the performance of an extended AEC at the Sons d'hiver Festival in February 2019. Only reedman & composer Roscoe Mitchell and drummer Famoudou Don Moye survive from the original quintet but, rather than accept this as a limitation, ...

Album Review

Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris

Read "The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Recorded live in Paris in February 2020, The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris. presents Art Ensemble Of Chicago—as defiantly daring avant-garde as that first night in Paris, 1969 —giving no quarter whatsoever in their lifelong, diasporic pursuit of creation unbound. Breaking at the pace of a dream, surviving co-founders saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and drummer Famoudou Don Moye return to the moment of conception with a two hour, double disc set The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris, ...

Album Review

Art Ensemble Of Chicago: The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris

Read "The Sixth Decade: From Paris to Paris" reviewed by Giuseppe Segala

Parigi è città fatale per l'Art Ensemble of Chicago: nel 1969 fu traguardo del prodigio artistico e umano preparato negli anni precedenti da Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors e Joseph Jarman, che avevano incrociato le proprie esperienze dapprima al Wilson Junior College di Chicago, nel 1961, poi nel lavoro con la Experimental Band di Muhal Richard Abrams, che dal '66 vide anche la partecipazione di Lester Bowie. Infine, nella formidabile attività musicale, didattica e sociale dell'Association for the Advancement of Creative ...

Album Review

Famoudou Don Moye and Tatsu Aoki: A Symphony of Cities

Read "A Symphony of Cities" reviewed by Mark F. Turner

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 ...

Album Review

Famoudou Don Moye & Tatsu Aoki: A Symphony Of Cities

Read "A Symphony Of Cities" reviewed by Jim Santella

Creative music is world music. The impressionism contained in its freeform display draws from all cultures and all methods of making music. Famoudou Don Moye's percussion collection, which includes devices from all over the world, makes music that seems to derive from all cultures at once. His career with the Art Ensemble of Chicago has proven that categories mean very little. Creative music is universal. Since Lester Bowie's passing, Moye has been working with the Art Ensemble of Africa, depicting ...

Album Review

Famoudou Don Moye/John Tchicai/Hartmut Geerken: The African Tapes

Read "The African Tapes" reviewed by AAJ Staff

One of music's most amazing powers is its ability to tell a story. In the case of The African Tapes, three musicians lived an incredible story and transformed the experience into a narrative of pure sound. Lengthy negotiations with various foreign ministries and embassies gave fruit in 1985 as the trio of Moye, Tchicai, and Geerken unlocked the doors to performance in West Africa. Starting out in Freetown, these musicians traveled across Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia as cultural ambassadors, ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

For Bobo

AECO Records


Bamako Chicago...

AECO Records


A Symphony Of Cities

Southport Records


The African Tapes

Golden Years of New Jazz


Afrikan Song

AECO Records



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