Don "Famoudou" Moye

born on 23/5/1946 in Rochester, NY, United States

Don Moye

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Don Moye

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 (AEC) and is noted for his mastery of African and Caribbean percussion instruments and rhythmic techniques.[1]


Early life and Detroit Free Jazz

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."[2] 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.[2]

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,[2] and Detroit Free Jazz, which was Moores 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 Moores residence. In early 1968, Moores 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 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, Don Cherry, 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."[3]


  • Downbeat International Critics Poll Winner 1977, 1978, 1982
  • New York Jazz Poll 1979, 1980
  • National Endowment for the Arts grants 1974, 1981


As leader

  • 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

Title Year Label
Chi-Congo 1970 Paula
Les Stances a Sophie 1970 Nessa
Live in Paris 1970 Freedom
Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass 1970 America
Phase One 1971 America
Live at Mandell Hall 1972 Delmark
Bap-Tizum 1972 Atlantic
Fanfare for the Warriors 1973 Atlantic
Kabalaba 1974 AECO
Nice Guys 1978 ECM
Live in Berlin 1979 West Wind
Full Force 1980 ECM
Urban Bushmen 1980 ECM
Among the People 1980 Praxis
The Complete Live in Japan 1984 DIW
The Third Decade 1984 ECM
Naked 1986 DIW
Ancient to the Future 1987 DIW
The Alternate Express 1989 DIW
Art Ensemble of Soweto 1990 DIW
America - South Africa 1990 DIW
Thelonious Sphere Monk with Cecil Taylor 1990 DIW
Dreaming of the Masters Suite 1990 DIW
Live at the 6th Tokyo Music Joy 1990 DIW
Fundamental Destiny with Don Pullen 1991 AECO
Salutes the Chicago Blues Tradition 1993 AECO
Coming Home Jamaica 1996 Atlantic
Urban Magic 1997 Musica Jazz
Tribute to Lester 2001 ECM
Reunion 2003 Around jazz / Il Manifesto
The Meeting 2003 Pi
Sirius Calling 2004 Pi
Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City 2006 Pi

As sideman

With Hamiet Bluiett

  • Resolution (Black Saint, 1977)

With Chico Freeman

  • No Time Left (Black Saint, 1979)
  • Spirit Sensitive (Indian Navigation, 1979)

With Julius Hemphill

  • Raw Materials and Residuals (Black Saint, 1977)

With Joseph Jarman

  • The Magic Triangle (Black Saint, 1979) with Don Pullen
  • Earth Passage - Density (Black Saint, 1981)

With Marcello Melis

  • Angedras (Black Saint, 1983)

With Don Pullen

  • Milano Strut (Black Saint, 1978)

With Randy Weston

  • Carnival (Freedom, 1974)


  1. Chris Kelsey. [Don Moye at All Music Guide Don Moye biography at Allmusic]. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fred Jung. Fireside Chat with Don Moye. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.
  3. History Makers: Don Moye. Retrieved on 2007-01-05.

External links

  • Official website
  • Listing at the Art Ensemble of Chicago webpage
  • Don Moye at All Music Guide
This page was last modified 26.03.2013 15:19:40

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