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MP3 DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam) - Mouyami (Parts 1 and 2)

"African-inspired, California grown," lyrical arrangements of traditional ballads and original songs to delight our ears and touch our hearts (26 evocative songs on a 2-CD album).

26 MP3 Songs in this album (137:25) !
Related styles: WORLD: African, EASY LISTENING: Ballads

Mouyami (Parts 1 and 2), a 2-CD release by DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam), follows the first album in the Pangaea series, Pangaea: Old World, New Visions. Mouyami is Ma Boukaka’s boyhood village near Brazzaville in Republic of Congo. The Pangaea series is a 3-part tribute to our shared experience of poignant nostalgia for the past, grief over modern political and ethnic strife, and our eventual triumph over obstacles to humankind. The Pangaea series introduces new lyrical arrangements of traditional ballads and original songs to delight our ears and touch our hearts. The album weaves Bantu lyrics together with "in-the-moment" contemporary instrumental and vocal arrangements. This series results from a collaboration between musicians playing traditional and improvisational music featuring artistry, original lyrics, and melody featuring Ma Boukaka (vocals and tumba), Robert Bornn (Xylimba, kisansi, djembe, standing drum), and Laura Worth (alto recorder) with other artists. They include Thierry Sornasse, Bob Sellers, Judy Kastle, Eliza Thomas, Wade Peterson, Sean Araneda, Linda Scarborough, Jonathan Fisher, Devorah Ginden, and Nina Serpiello on a variety of instruments including voice, djembe, standing drum, dunun, shekere, violin and a myriad of percussion sounds.

The DIAJ Ensemble

DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam), an acoustic ensemble from the San Francisco Bay Area, created what we call "African-inspired, California-grown," world beat, new age music. Our music blends Congolese and West African musical traditions with modern, improvisational, vocal and instrumental artistry on a variety of drum, percussion, and wind instruments. The album weaves rhythm, melody, and lyrics together in contemporary arrangements by Robert Bornn, bandleader.

The DIAJ albums feature Ma Boukaka, Robert Bornn and Laura Worth with other Bay Area musicians. Ma Boukaka brings us modern lyrical arrangements of traditional work with his original modern and improvisational Congolese ballads. He also graces our albums with drum and percussion rhythms based in Congolese tradition and modern inspiration. Laura Worth on alto recorder and Robert Bornn on Xylimba, drum, and percussion add contemporary improvisational harmonics and rhythm.

The DIAJ magic recorded in this timeless collection creates compelling musical expressions to resonate inside. Most of this music was "in-the-moment" creations recorded in one-time-only rehearsals and informal jams.

With our albums and performances we hope to contribute to building community and celebrating our human rights by creating multi-ethnic, meaningful, and fun artistic experiences. Our art honors our diversity and rejects the gratuitous violence that appears in much entertainment today. In the wake of hate crimes at home, brutal civilian war casualties and "ethnic cleansing" in many parts of the world, it has been said that the most important lesson of our era is that each one of us is important and worthy of basic respect. We promote these ideas by reaching across human boundaries in our music.

The Musicians

Featured on the Pangaea series are Ma Boukaka, Robert Bornn, and Laura Worth with other artists including Thierry Sornasse, Bob Sellers, Judy Kastle, and Eliza Thomas, Wade Peterson, Sean Araneda, Linda Scarborough, Jonathan Fisher, Devorah Ginden, and Nina Serpiello.

Ma Boukaka is from Republic of Congo in Central Africa and grew up in Mouyami, a village between Ngolibu and the capital city, Brazzaville. He learned to drum by tapping out rhythms in the jungle with his friends. At 14 he went to work as a cook in Brazzaville. Later he became a "pisteur" -- guide, hunter, and cook for a French safari company in Northern Congo and Gabon. On safari, he met Alan Baer, a young American who offered to bring him to the United States. Ma Boukaka accepted and came to the Bay Area in 1959. After the arrival of fellow Congolese in California, Ma Boukaka worked with them for years to produce many shows of Congolese culture through dance, drum, and song. Now, on his own and with others, he continues to create songs and musical arrangements evolving from his traditional Bantu roots. He has taught drumming for decades and continues to initiate beginners into African rhythms and inspire drummers at all levels. He performs with his band, Bole Bantu ("It Takes Two") and has released a number of albums. He performed and recorded with DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam). (lead vocals, tumba, ngoma, harmonica, kisansi (kalimba), bell, clave, krin).

Robert Bornn grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He first learned hand drumming in the 50s on the streets of New York City and has more recently studied with Bay Area teachers including a number of Congolese and West-African masters. Robert has been inspired and taught by Ma Boukaka, Arthur Hull, Babatunde Olatunji, Sanga-of-the-Valley, Fred Simpson, Mabiba Baegne, Abdoulaye Diakite, Malonga Casquelourde, Babou Sagna, Sikiru Adepoju, Mamady Keita. He has been drumming for more than four decades and founded DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam) for San Francisco Bay Area drummers and dancers. In 1997 he wrote, directed, and produced "Sweet California," an African-inspired performance of original and traditional music and dance including his original ballet, "California Suite." He wrote original lyrics and melodies as well as arrangements for DIAJ. He is the founding director of DIAJ performing group and producer of their albums, including the Pangaea series and Abby Womba. He wrote, directed, performed and recorded with DIAJ, including The World Is You Ballet, performed at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills, California to celebrate human rights on July 4, 2001. He founded Big Deal Productions to record and produce the music of DIAJ. In 2004 Robert moved to Vashon Island outside Seattle and formed SoundMoments duo to perform and record with Laura Worth and others. (Xylimba (marimba), djembe, dunun, standing drum, kisansi, percussion, piano)

Laura Worth was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She moved to California in 1970 as a young adult and played the soprano recorder for personal enjoyment. In 1998 she began improvising original harmonic lines on the alto recorder for DIAJ. She has been drumming for more than 15 years and enjoys crafting opportunities to make music with others who share her delight in the artistic process. She co-founded DIAJ, performing and recording with the DIAJ performing group. She also co-produced "Sweet California" and “The World Is You” with Robert Bornn. In 2004 Laura moved to Vashon Island outside Seattle and formed SoundMoments duo to perform and record with Robert Bornn and others. (alto recorder, standing drum, dunun, and percussion.)

Partial Listing of Events and Appearances

Noteworthy DIAJ Ensemble Performances:
- Burgess Theater, Menlo Park (see ballet below)
- Bill Graham Presents, "New Orleans by the Bay" at Shoreline Amphitheater
- Afribean (main stage, Mountain View)East-West Bookshop, Mountain View
- Tapestry of Talent festival, San Jose
- Making Waves (San Francisco Festival)
- Peninsula School Benefit Performance, Menlo Park
- Skylonda Fitness Center - ensemble performance for guests (Skyline Blvd. Retreat)
- Portola Valley''s "Windy Hill Faire"
- San Francisco fundraiser by EMILY''s List called "Beat for Boxer"
- East Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce celebration cruise
- Somar Gallery - "Burning Man" Performance Art Event (fundraiser), San Francisco
- Interactive entertainment for corporate parties (including Incyte and Teknowledge)

Community Drum Circles and Interactive Classes
- Burgess Theater (drum and dance classes)
- Private homes around the San Francisco Bay Area
- Hidden Villa Visitor''s Center
- Afribean (invited facilitator)
- Various Festivals (Drums of the World, Juneteenth, Int''l Day at Cesar Chavez School)
- Baylands, Palo Alto (at the historic “DIAJ Boathouse” and outdoors)
- New Guinea Sculpture Garden, Stanford University
- Menlo Park Recreation Center (dance classes)
- Cubberly Community Center (at Dance Visions, Zohar, and in the Auditorium), Palo Alto
- Skylonda Fitness Center - drum circle for guests (Skyline Blvd. Retreat)
- Street fairs: Los Altos, Menlo Park, Palo Alto

Original Ballets
- Produced Sweet California, including "California Suite," an "African-inspired, California-grown" ballet with audience participation in 1997. Burgess Theater, Menlo Park., California in 1997
- Produced “The World Is You,” a fusion music and dance event at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills, California in July 2001

- 1994 - DIAJ (cassette)
- 1996 - Kilamanjaro (cassette)
- 1997 - Abby Womba (cassette)
- 1999 - Pangaea: Old World, New Visions (CD and electronic download)
- 2009 - Mouyami (Parts 1 and 2) (CDs and electronic download)

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