Hidden Villa Hosts
World Beat Music and
Fusion Dance Event
by DIAJ (Drummers
in a Jam)
June 26, 2001, Palo Alto, CA.
DIAJ, a local, multi-cultural, acoustic ensemble, with deep roots in the
Palo Alto area, will team up with guest dancers to perform The World
Is You: A Music and Dance Event at Hidden Villa Ranch on Saturday,
July 7th, 7-9 PM. The band’s sweet, “pan-ethnic” blend of what its
founders call African-inspired, California-grownTM
music and dance is both celebratory and contemplative. A community
jam following the performance, around a campfire (weather permitting),
will be lead by DIAJ, also known as Drummers in a Jam.
The World Is You was created
by Robert Bornn, Ma Boukaka, and Laura Worth to celebrate our human rights
and promote the importance of each individual’s intrinsic worth and contributions
in our diverse culture. It features “world beat/fusion” music and
DIAJ features Ma Boukaka,
international vocalist and musician, originally from Congo and a long-time
resident of East Palo Alto. Also featured are Robert Bornn, founder
and bandleader, and Laura Worth, cofounder, of Menlo Park and formerly
Palo Alto with other local musicians on world drums, percussion, marimba,
keesansi, and alto recorder. Guest dancers include Lucile Vitolo,
Maxi Harper, and Corey Bradley.
Robert Bornn, the DIAJ ensemble’s
founder explained, “During the last several years, we’ve teamed up with
Ma Boukaka to build a small group of musicians committed to improvisational
artistry. We share a love of African-based rhythms, mostly Congolese
and West-African, and a belief in the universal language of music, giving
us all a common voice. Music is a big part of our lives. We
rehearse together every couple weeks and perform as much as possible.”
He went on to say, “One of the joys of performing is that special link
with a live audience. We hope our audience brings drums and percussion
toys for a community jam with us after the performance.”
Laura Worth went on to say, “Several
months ago we decided to experiment with adding a kind of ‘fusion dance’
to this performance. On July 7th, our guest dancers will showcase
original dances inspired by a combination of Congolese, West-African, Western
ballet, modern dance, and other styles.”
In keeping with its desire to promote
human rights and mutual respect among the world’s diverse “tribes,” DIAJ
named its first CD after the land-mass that existed billions of years ago
when there was only one continent. “Pangaea: Old World, New
Visions” is available in stores and on the web.
Laura Worth, added, “DIAJ weaves
rhythm, melody, and Congolese lyrics together with contemporary, improvisational,
instrumental and vocal arrangements. The musical blend builds on
Ma Boukaka’s masterful artistry on drums and percussion and his Congolese
lyrics. To me, Ma Boukaka's Congolese vocals are like deep blue velvet."
Laura went on to say, “This is fresh,
all new, acoustic music that will surprise you: it’s haunting, joyful,
and moving all at once. It transforms me every time.”
Ma Boukaka came to California in
1959 from what is now Republic of Congo. Mr. Boukaka has entertained
for years, co-producing many shows of Congolese culture through dance,
drum, and song. He has been a well-respected drum teacher on the
mid-peninsula for decades, inspiring drummers at all levels. He creates
songs and musical arrangements evolving from his traditional Bantu roots.
DIAJ, Robert Bornn, and Laura Worth
also have deep roots on the mid- peninsula. Since 1990, in Palo Alto
and surrounding areas, they have organized hundreds of community drum circles,
drum and African dance classes, impromptu jams, and performances.
For a time they played weekly, having cleaned up the old boathouse in the
Baylands as their headquarters.
DIAJ performances have included Bill
Graham’s "New Orleans by the Bay" (Shoreline), Mountain View's "Afribean"
(main stage), a Peninsula School Benefit Performance (Menlo Park), San
Jose's "Tapestry of Talent", a San Francisco fundraiser by EMILY's List
called "Beat for Boxer," and various multi-cultural celebrations like Juneteenth
(celebrating news in June of the end of slavery, word of which took weeks
to travel through the country to the West).
In 1997, after months of community-based
drum and dance rehearsals promoting “cross-101 unity” in East Palo Alto,
Palo Alto, and Menlo Park, DIAJ performed Robert Bornn’s original ballet,
“Sweet California,” to a “sell-out” crowd at Burgess Theater in Menlo Park
with Cherry Gilbert’s “African Explosion Dance Group."
DIAJ is available for gigs.
Free samples and CD information can be found at www.bornn.com/diaj.htm.
Call Hidden Villa Ranch at (650) 949-8653 for advance reservations ($15
adults, $12 students/seniors, $7.50 under 12, free admission for children
under 3) or visit www.hiddenvilla.org for a mail-in reservation form.
Tickets will also be available at the door. Hidden Villa Ranch is
located at 26870 Moody Road, Los Altos Hills. Contact Robert Bornn
at (650) 368-1946 or email@example.com for information about DIAJ.
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