Famoudou Don Moye, (born May 23, 1946) is an American jazz percussionist and drummer. He is most known for his involvement with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and is noted for his mastery of African and Caribbean percussion instruments and rhythmic techniques.
Don Moye at the 2017 Kongsberg Jazzfestival
|Also known as||Famoudou Don Moye|
|Born||May 23, 1946|
Rochester, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz|
|Labels||Black Saint, AECO|
|Associated acts||Detroit Free Jazz, Art Ensemble of Chicago, The Leaders|
Early life and education
Moye was born in Rochester, New York and performed in various drum and bugle corps during his youth, as well as church choir. Moye has commented that he really "didn't have an affinity for the bugle … and just kind of gravitated towards drums." He also took violin lessons during this time. Moye was exposed to jazz at an early age since his mother worked for a local social club that had a jazz club next door that hosted musicians such as Kenny Burrell and Jimmy McGriff. His family was also musically inclined; his uncles played saxophones and his father played drums. Also, his mother used to take him to various performances as a child, such as "opera under the stars" and to see Mahalia Jackson.
Moye went on to study percussion at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Moye lived in a building with trumpeter Charles Moore, who became his mentor. Moye also played in the groups African Cultural Ensemble, which included musicians from African countries such as Ghana, and Detroit Free Jazz, which was Moore’s band. It was at this time that he first encountered the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) due to the revolving door of musicians in and out of Moore’s residence. In early 1968, Moore’s band traveled to Europe and Moye decided to live there for the next couple of years, touring and visiting the continent as well as Northern Africa.
Art Ensemble of Chicago and The Leaders
By 1969, the AEC had augmented into the percussion-less quartet of Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman (saxophones), Lester Bowie (trumpet) and Malachi Favors Maghostut (bass). The group crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Europe to perform throughout the continent. Moye at the time was rehearsing and performing in Paris, France, at the American Center for Students and Artists, where musicians such as Art Taylor and Johnny Griffin practiced collectively. When Mitchell met with Moye again at the Center, he asked Moye to join his group, which was already known as the Art Ensemble of Chicago and had issued several recordings including three releases on the European label BYG Actual. These recordings did feature percussion but all percussion was played by Mitchell, Bowie, Favors, or Jarman.
After Moye returned to the States in the early 1970s, he played with the Black Artists Group in St. Louis, Missouri before settling in the Chicago, Illinois area. He was also in a duo with fellow percussionist Steve McCall who later was a member of Air with Henry Threadgil while still playing with the AEC. In the mid-1980s, Moye joined The Leaders, a jazz group consisting of AEC member Bowie, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Cecil McBee, and Kirk Lightsey. Moye has also recorded numerous solo albums as leader of his own band. Moye toured and recorded again with the AEC in the 1990s, which was dealt a blow with the 1999 death of Bowie. Famadou Don Moye refers to his own style of drumming as "Sun Percussion". Other groups he led in the '90s include the Joseph Jarman/Famoudou Don Moye Magic Triangle Band and the Sun Percussion Summit (with Enoch Williamson), the latter of which was "a group dedicated to exploring the traditions of African-American percussion music."
- Downbeat International Critics Poll Winner – 1977, 1978, 1982
- New York Jazz Poll – 1979, 1980
- National Endowment for the Arts grants – 1974, 1981
- 1975 Sun Percussion, Vol. 1 – AECO
- 1981 Earth Passage/Density – Black Saint
- 1981 Black Paladins – Black Saint
- 1983 Jam for Your Life! – AECO
- 1987 The African Tapes – Praxis
- 1996 Afrikan Song – AECO
- 2002 A Symphony of Cities – Southport
With the Art Ensemble of Chicago
With The Leaders
With Hamiet Bluiett
- Resolution (Black Saint, 1977)
With Chico Freeman
With Julius Hemphill
- Raw Materials and Residuals (Black Saint, 1977)
With Joseph Jarman
With Cecil McBee
- Music from the Source (Enja, 1978)
- Compassion (Enja, 1979)
- Alternate Spaces (India Navigation, 1979)
With Marcello Melis
- Angedras (Black Saint, 1983)
With Don Pullen
- Milano Strut (Black Saint, 1978)
With Wadada Leo Smith
- Spiritual Dimensions (Cuneiform, 2009)
With Randy Weston
- Carnival (Freedom, 1974)