Aka Moon is a Belgian avant-garde jazz band. Saxophonist Fabrizio Cassol, bassist Michel Hatzigeorgiou, and drummer Stéphane Galland are the founding members of the core trio. All three were already active musicians playing in various groups including the Nasa Na Band (with guitarist Pierre Van Dormael), but came together to record as Aka Moon after spending some time in the Central African Republic studying the musical habits of the native Aka pygmies tribe. In 1992, they released their first album, inspired by the methodology that the pygmies used in creating their music. Their name is commonly mispronounced as "AKA Moon" referring to the acronym "also known as". The correct pronunciation is "AH-kah MOON".
Aka Moon's overall sound is a mixture of jazz, rock, world music, and avant-garde. They could be compared musically and philosophically with the M-Base movement and artists such as M-Base founder Steve Coleman, Belgian ensemble Octurn, Stéphane Payen's Thôt, Sylvain Cathala 's Print, Vijay Iyer, and Rudresh Mahanthappa to name a few.
Their first few albums released in the early 1990s (Aka Moon, Rebirth, and Live at Kaai) featured the original trio configuration. In the mid-90s, they expanded incorporating Eastern elements, integrating musicians from India into their music. Akasha Vol.1 and Akasha Vol. 2 were released and included instrumentation such as flute, tabla, and mridangam, adding further dimension to their work.
They changed the group configuration again in 1997 with the release of three albums. Ganesh had an eastern tone similar to the Akasha albums, but added were the talents of two guitarists, notably Marc Ducret. Elohim featured a more electric lineup with vocalist David Linx and keyboardist Benoit Delbecq on some tracks. They also started working more with the concept of recurring themes. Live At Vooruit featured the trio with a well-known percussionist from Senegal, Doudou N'Diaye Rose, and several members of his family.
In the late 1990s, the group endeavored to produce a trilogy of albums that were all designed to loosely intertwine, Invisible Mother, Invisible Sun, and Invisible Moon. The concept was based around the Chinese I Ching (book of changes). Invisible Mother has the trio playing with the Ictus Ensemble, a European chamber band. The music showcases a dark, chamber string-quartet side of the band and lays the groundwork for the follow-up albums in the trilogy. Invisible Sun is an 11-piece big band ensemble. Invisible Moon features Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman and Benoit Delbecq and has a strong world music vibe. Aka Moon revisits and rearranges several themes found in different spots throughout the trilogy.
In Real Time was released in 2001, and was originally music composed for a ballet. Guitars was released in 2002 which comprises the trio playing with 3 guitarists, including David Gilmore. Like earlier works, there are examples of recurring, rearranged themes within the album as the group pays homage to several different guitarists and their styles: like John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Paco De Lucia.
In 2006, the new Album Amazir was released, with Magic Malik (flute, voice) and Fabian Fiorini (piano) appearing as guests.
Aka Moon is a leading band of an entire modern jazz movement in Belgium with artists like Reve D’Elephant Orchestra, La Grande Formation, Slang, Kris Defoort, Pierre Van Dormael, Octurn, Maak's Spirit, Tomas & Co, and others.
Read more about Aka Moon: Discography
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