Today we have another wonderful entry for our Artists in Our Midst series!
We all love music, so I’m sure you will all love this one! I bet Ajabu has a lot of great stories, and it’s our job to get him to tell them. And if you have any questions, this is your chance to ask them! ~WG
My BJ nym is Ajabu (which, if you’re ever on a quiz show, means Surprise or Amazing in Swahili) but I’m known professionally as Don Moors.
I have been a working musician for well over a half century and I’ve had quite a time of it. I’m Caribbean born, trained as a jazz musician and spent nearly two decades as a performer and recording artist in Los Angeles touring with artists including Freddie Hubbard, Roberta Flack, Marvin Gaye, Randy Weston and Junior Cook among others and recording with LTD, The Manhattans, Tavares, Taj Mahal & John Handy for A&M, Electra-Asylum and Columbia and can be heard on a variety of Motown tracks as well.
So, why am I still working, you ask?
The answer is simple. Youthful stupidity. When all of the above was going on it never occurred to me that it was finite. That technology would wipe out my studio career or I’d get too old to tour. So I spent the money as fast as it came in. And here I am, working until I fall dead over my instrument or they find a cure for death, whichever comes first…
On the upside, I enjoy what I do, I’m really good at it and I still have the physical ability to do it. The downside is I play vibraphone and marimba, instruments that have become as obscure as I have. I describe myself as “A musical anachronism at the peak of my skills.”
I currently have two albums available online in all the usual places (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.) that you can access here: donmoors.hearnow.com that are both projects I’m proud of.
And, for your dining and dancing pleasure, here are a few YouTube links for you visual learners:
Sacramento, CA 1990
St. Croix, USVI 2008
Atlanta, GA 2014
And finally, if you find this is something you’d like to support, I do have a GoFundMe up to pay for what will likely be my last major music release. Here’s the album cover.
I’m not going to insert the link because I’m not trying to hustle the family here but it’s a tribute to St. Croix, my longtime home before I lost what was left of my mind and decided that with Obama as President things would improve dramatically in the states and talked my wife into relocating.
(Narrator: Dumbass MoFo…)
In any event, if you feel compelled to donate, just go to the main GoFundMe page and search my name. That extra effort makes me earn it!
Thanks for taking the time to read all this. I truly hope you guys enjoy the music as much as I enjoy creating it
I have his CD on my shelf!
Which one do you have? I have several.
Not sure why I started with the 2014 video first, but I love it. Going to keep listening.
@Ajabu: Back to the Islands. I got it from you in 2013!
Ajabu: have you looked into the Richmond VA folk festival? It’s an excellent one, and they have all sorts of bands, for two days. Lots of world music. Not just folk; we had an amazing Tuareg electric guitarist, Bombino, in 2019. Here’s a sample.
You would be a great fit.
Love the Samba!
Outstanding! What’s your favorite tune on it. Mine is A Mere Thought. Never thought I’d find a drummer capable of playing it but I lucked out on DeFazio!
Ajabu, is there a site where you sell your CDs? Or buy and download?
I’d love to do it. Do you have any contact info? Too late for this year but maybe next year.
Ajabu/Don – There’s a great line in one of the Auntie Mame movies, where Mame’s best friend hears the news that the stock market has crashed, and everyone has lost everything, and she says, “Thank GOD I never saved a penny!” If you spent it all, hopefully you had fun doing so.
When I hear marimba jazz, I’m instantly transported back in time to the dinner lounge era where people in elegant clothing smoked and sipped and listened to the band.
Plus, marimba music always lightens my heart. Something inherently cheerful about the sound.
That link tells you where everything is. I only have two products online currently but I’ve got some others (Christmas CD and two DVDs available) BJers can contact me via email to get them. Feel free to give it out.
@Ajabu: Maybe Change Up.
@Ajabu: I will get it to WaterGirl for you.
Mid-October. Great time of year. Outdoors.
Love this! Are you familiar with the balafon music of west Africa? My husband’s home country of Mali is one of the big centers of it and it seems like there must be a musical lineage between the continent and the islands.
Oh, I’m enjoying this. Thank you very much. More for my weekend music list ?
I have 3 more of these “Bj Creatives” aka Artists in Our Midst posts in the pipeline.
Is anyone else interested in having their art and/or talent featured?
Ajabu won’t do it, but I’m not too proud to link to the GoFundMe for Don to fund his (
hopefully) upcoming album.
As we all know, it’s been a tough year or two for musicians.
edit: adding the correction from Don:
It’s not hopefully. It will get done one way or the other. I’d just prefer to pay the participants.
That’s where my Ajabu nym originated. For a number of years I did a performing program the was essentially ethnomusicology for children in elementary and middle schools. Myself and two other percussionists. We traced the history of percussion from early man duplicating his heartbeat on a hollow log and moving through to contemporary music. The emphasis was on creating instruments from the indigenous environment like Balafon, Cuica, Berimbau, Steel Pan, etc. Without Africa there would be no music. My mentor, Randy Weston said, “I play piano. It’s a European instrument until I play it. Then it’s an African instrument.” Ambako Ulimwengu Wate Kwanza.
Thank you for that. It’s not hopefully. It will get done one way or the other. I’d just prefer to pay the participants.
As for the last year and a half, speaking for the music community, most of us can barely afford to pay attention about now.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
There’s actually a strong marimba current that runs through my wife’s family. Her uncle came over from Mexico with a marimba band, mostly based in Vegas I think. And her cousin leads a marimba band at the university where he teaches.
I have that album. I was disappointed when he sold out to the big labels.
I want to add: I own (and play) three Balafons as well.
And, as for the connection between Africa and the Caribbean, where do you think everybody on the islands came from? There’s an old Calypso song called “Some Stopped On The Way”.
That’s why I’m voting for Baud. Only the two of us have that record.
Ajabu: I will call the Folk Festival folks tomorrow. Cannot tell if they have a typo on their application form. They say applications are closed for 2022, but they’ve got 2020 on the same webpage elsewhere. I will let WaterGirl know what I find out.
Thanks. I’d love to do it.
@Ajabu: wish you could have come and spoken to the kids at our schools. ?
one of the coolest parts of my time living in Bamako was the chance to see amazing music from artists channeling ancient traditions (and updating them for modern times). Keletigi Diabate, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita, Toumani Diabate, etc. Africa truly is the mother of all the best music.
Just incidentally: One of the primary reasons I’m struggling so hard with the GoFundMe is that most people I know are musicians like myself who’ve been spiraling down the greased slide to financial oblivion since COVID decided to visit. I always told people that in a worst case scenario I could go on a street corner with a tip jar and make a living but that’s not even viable anymore. Nobody is on the street corner.
If you don’t know Randy Weston, Google him. He remains the primary link between American Jazz and traditional African music. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as accomplished (or Afrocentric) without his profound influence on my life and career. He died in 2018 at the age of 92, still touring. I knew him so long I knew both his parents. An extraordinary man.
Excellent music. Has a cooling effect – probably because Chicago is currently warmer than the Caribbean!
Lovely music. Very healing.
@Ajabu: thanks, I will check it out!
Without Africa, there would be no humans ?
Thanks for this uplifting thread! I’m definitely giving your music a listen and will head over to your house fund me!! Good luck with the new album.
Gin & Tonic
Always liked the vibes, and had the good fortune to be living in Boston in the 70’s when Gary Burton was pretty regular at the long-defunct Jazz Workshop.
I’ll give your music a listen once the grandkids are asleep, but in the meantime, thanks for sharing.
Got that right! And, as for music: Flute, Guitar, Marimba, and all the drums originated in Africa. As did virtually all vocal music and common rhythms. And mankind.
@Gin & Tonic:
Should have been there in the 60’s when I was at Berklee and played the Jazz Workshop regularly. Worked for old Varty Hartounian on a regular basis.
Gin & Tonic
@Ajabu: I think my parents might have objected if I’d moved to Boston then. Saw a lot of good acts there later, though.
ETA: Including a very young George Lewis on trombone – later winning a MacArthur, and Pat Metheny when he was still an undergrad at Berkeley.
This is a lot of fun and just so you won’t all get bored here, a music joke that requires an explanation before reading it. Because this one is a purely verbal joke.
The punchline word is: PIANIST. with the emphasis on the FIRST syllable – PIanist, not piANist. No emPHAsis on the wrong syLLable!
Guys walks into a bar with a small box under his arm. Says to the bartender, “If I can show you something amazing, that you’ve never seen before, can I get drinks on the house?”
Bartender says, “Hey, I’ve been around the world. Not a lot I haven’t seen. What you got?”
Guy sets the box down on the bar, takes out a tiny grand piano and bench, reaches back in and pulls out a little man about foot tall, sets him on the bench and he starts to play. He’s amazing! Mozart, Bach, Gershwin medleys, Elton John tunes, etc. Big crowds gather around and my man drinks on the house.
At closing time they’re packing up and the Bartender says, “Best money I ever spent. But I’ve got to ask you, where did you get him?”
“Well, I was walking on the beach, stumbled over a magic lamp and a Genie came out and offered me one wish, anything I wanted.”
Bartender says, “That all makes sense, but why the hell did you ask for a 12 inch PIanist?”
@Ajabu: ahh that’s so bad.
just read the previous thread and learned about your band TRUMP. I’m dying here!
You would have to bring that up, huh? And without the explanation!!
In the late 70’s I had never heard of TFG. Just an unfortunate coincidence.
And it was spelled T.R.U.M.P
Well, I guess that’s about it. We’ve gone on for a couple of hours and I want you all to know how much I appreciate everybody in the BJ family. I realize that people have wildly differing musical tastes and what I do is not for everybody but even if it’s not your particular style of music – as featured here – put my name (Don Moors) or Virgin Islands Rhythm Section in YouTube and you may find something I did that will work for you.
Thanks again, everybody. I appreciate your input! I’ll let you know when LEEWARD ISLE is finished.
I’m going to eat dinner but I’ll be back shortly in case there’s anything else I need to answer (or answer for).
Caught Bombino live a few in the before times. He’s fantastic.
Also Tinariwen are excellent, live. They’re Touareg.
And another wonderful singer from the same part of the world – Noura Mint Seymali from Mauritania
Big fan of music from Mali (and West Africa) here. In addition to the ones you mentioned I’d add Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba. Amazingly talented musicians.
@Anyway: Will look them up. Thank you.
Bombino needs to come back!
Wow! Will be giving this proper attention asap.
@Ajabu: haha sorry, yeah I got a kick out of that.
I got to hear a marinba today – and it was fantastic. Back in the late 70’s I saw John Handy play in Berkley with Gerry Garcia – and possibly again with Merle Saunders. It was the Hard Work tour, so maybe, just maybe I have been in your audience.
I hope that you find that there is so much pent up demand for live music that you are gigging it up. Great stuff- thank you for sharing your gifts.
I do want to buy CDs so please send the email.
Oh my, this was wonderful. My son just got his undergrad degree in Music, studying percussion and in particular marimba! Four years ago he had never played anything but scales on a marimba but when he started in college they got him hooked on marimba and vibraphone.
And last week he headed off to UNLV to work on a masters in music.
Marimba is so underrated… And you play beautifully Ajabu!
Thank you for this, WaterGirl and Ajabu. Great music to end the day with!
Thank you, Ajabu!.
@HinTN: I am confused. Were you intending this as a reply to me at #9, asking about purchasing CDs? Or me later on when I asked if there were others interested in having their art featured?