The ranks of jazzy drum'n'bass swelled considerably with the debut of Mocean Worker, the recording alias of eclectic producer Adam Dorn. Dorn's father, Joel, was one of the stalwart producers at Atlantic Records during the 1960s and '70s, helming sessions by Coltrane and Mingus as well as pop records like Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly," Bette Midler's debut album, and the Allman Brothers' Idlewild South. Adam, a bass player and vocalist, studied at Berklee College of Music and worked extensively in the music industry as well, with artists ranging from David Sanborn to Hal Willner to Chaka Khan. Father and son also produced archival reissues released by their own 32 Records (the catalog also proved helpful when Dorn began sampling sources like Mahalia Jackson and Slim & Slam's Slam Stewart).
The Mocean Worker project came about almost by accident, the result of a series of half-serious recording sessions. After realizing the quality of the music he'd created, Dorn released his first Mocean Worker album, Home Movies from the Brain Forest, in 1998 on the punk label Conscience. Dorn moved to the Island subsidiary Palm Pictures for 1999's Mixed Emotional Features, which included some drum'n'bass material but pointed toward his predominantly jazz-rooted future releases. Aural & Hearty, a mix of disco-funk, house, and swanky club jazz, was issued a year later. Dorn then established his Mowo! label. Enter the Mowo! arrived in 2004, with Cinco de Mowo! — as in the fifth Mocean Worker album — following in 2007. In 2008, Dorn contributed to two compilations (Jazz & Milk Breaks and Sundown: Music for Unwinding) before assembling an eight-piece soul/funk band for festival shows at Bumbershoot and the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. Released in 2011, Candygram for Mowo! was a change of pace, with a wider spread of genres and guest spots by trumpeter Steven Bernstein and rapper Lyrics Born. A compilation, It's Pronounced Motion..., was issued in 2014. The following year, he contributed to "I Can't Breathe," a track on Marcus Miller's Afrodeezia that also featured trenchant rhymes from Chuck D. ~ John Bush