Thursday, December 23, 2004

About Umoja Soundsystem...

(L-R: Destroyer, Culture D, Monalisa, Jun, B-Love, Tomas,
Black Shakespeare, DJ Daz)
The Umoja Soundsystem DJ collective was established in 1992 in Los Angeles by DJ's Tomas and Daz originally as a club night called Umoja Jazz & Ragga Lounge, and later as a association of likeminded DJs including Culture D, DJ Jun, Monalisa, Stevie G and MC/DJ Cokni O’ Dire.

Every Monday night, from its original home at Martini Lounge on Melrose Avenue at Larchmont, resident selectors Tomas and Daz's newly christened night Umoja Jazz & Ragga Lounge featured guest DJs including Mark Farmer and Al Jackson (of Juju), and presented the roots of hip-hop music in the form of original jazz and funk DJ sets, augmented with classic reggae jams. In addition, poets and fledgling jazz musicians were invited to participate. Eventually, a regular band, who dubbed themselves the Umoja Quintet (headed by accomplished Black Note jazz bassist Marcus Shelby) became a regularly performing act at the night.

After a few months the night moved to the Gaslight bar on Ivar street near Cahuenga Blvd in Hollywood. The event ran successfully every Monday for almost two years, and featured guests such as Funkmaster Flex and DJ Stretch Armstrong. The synergy spawned future club nights from the Umoja crew including B-Side, Goa Dub and the still-running Chocolate Bar with DJs Daz, Higher,T-Lee, Shakespeare and Auerltio.

Although now scattered througout the United States, each member continues to represent in clubs, on the radio and internet and underground DJ events-–King Cokni in Dallas, Daz, Jun, Culture D, Aaron Paar and Monalisa in LA, Stevie G in Bali, Indonesia, plus Tomas and B-Love in San Francisco. Umoja (Swahili for “unity”) reflects the diverse array of music styles the soundsystem plays (abstract house, downtempo, hip-hop, jazz, reggae, electronic, drum & bass), unified in the spirit of dub, experimental and beat driven music.