Thursday 22. 11.
IDRIS ACKAMOOR & THE PYRAMIDS
THE PYRAMIDS was founded close to 50 years ago in 1972. Alto saxophonist Ackamoor had originally left his hometown of Chicago to study music at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his teachers numbered legendary pianist Cecil Taylor. Via the Antioch Abroad Program, Ackamoor landed a year’s study overseas in 1972, which allowed him and two Antioch students to travel to Europe and Africa. He co – founded THE PYRAMIDS in Paris and then performed throughout Holland before embarking on a “cultural odyssey” across Africa. The trip took in a musical spiritual journey up into Northern Ghana, the land of the Fra Fra of Bolgatanga and the Islam-influenced Dagomba in Tamale, where Ackamoor taped some field recordings. “We played with the King’s musicians in Tamale. I also undertook a healing ceremony in the bush of Bolgatanga with a Fra Fra traditional healer (a Juju Man).”
Back in Yellow Springs, THE PYRAMIDS brought together all of the knowledge from their journey and released 2 independently produced albums including “Lalibela” (1973), and “King of Kings” (1974). After graduating, Idris and the band headed to Oakland, California and quickly met other musicians in the thriving San Francisco Bay Area music scene where they recorded their third album, “Birth / Speed / Merging” in 1976. The Pyramids played their last concert at the 1977 UC Berkeley Jazz Festival sharing the stage with vocalist Al Jarreau and jazz legends Woody Shaw and Dexter Gordon.
30 years later The Pyramids reunited unexpectedly in 2007, following growing demand for their music from vinyl collectors and jazz fans. Since 2010 the band has toured throughout the world with original members and a line-up of fresh innovative players. The group also signed to German label Disko B in 2012 who released a new album, the freeform ‘Otherwordly’ and their rare back catalogue. Idris was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by DJ Gilles Peterson at his Worldwide Awards in London and The Pyramids were back, gaining a whole new legion of fans.
In 2015, they returned with the acclaimed album, ‘We Be All Africans’, recorded at Max Weissenfeldt’s analogue Philophon studio in Berlin. Strut presents the band's brand new album, ‘An Angel Fell’ on 11th May 2018. “I wanted to use folklore, fantasy and drama as a warning bell,” explains Ackamoor. “The songs explore global themes that are important to me and to us all: the rise of catastrophic climate change and our lack of concern for our planet, loss of innocence and separation… but positive themes too, the healing power of music, collective action and the simple beauty of nature.” Produced by Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics, the album was recorded during an intense week at Quatermass studios in London and is one of the deepest, richest works yet from a band reaching their highest creative peak since the early ’70s. Some of the many highlights include the poignant phantasmagoric title track, ‘An Angel Fell’, outrage and grief on the powerful, hard hitting ‘Soliloquy For Michael Brown’ and the lilting, beautiful album closer, ‘Sunset’. ‘An Angel Fell’ completes a trilogy of albums since the reformation of the band.
IDRIS ACKAMOOR is an alto and tenor saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, and tap dancer. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of jazz and world music ensemble Idris Ackamoor ☥ The Pyramids founded close to fifty years years ago in 1972, dissolved in 1977, and then resurrected over 30 years later in 2007.
BRADIE SPELLER is an original member of The Pyramids. He is a Master Percussionist and Rhythm Programmer, who now, as a result of his early interest and exploration of electronic percussion instruments, finds himself at the forefront of the current electronic percussion age.
SANDRA POINDEXTER is a violinist, composer, and educator. Born and raised in Oakland, California, Sandra began studying violin in her early childhood. Much of her study and experience came from the Oakland Youth Orchestras and summer music camps and teachers from the Oakland Symphony.
DAVID MOLINA is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, sound artist/designer, recording engineer, and instrument inventor. He has created music and sound for the performing arts, film, radio, and multimedia installations and productions for the past 20 years.
SKYLER STOVER was born and raised in Sonoma County, California by musical parents. His mother was a singer and pianist, and his father was an internationally known classical guitarist. Skyler began playing guitar at age 12, and got serious about being a musician at 16. He entered the music program at San Francisco State University in 2009 when he was 18 years old.
As a young boy, JOHANN POLZER was interested in the different possibilities of drums. At the age of 10, he finally decided to play them. This enthusiasm never left him and he took drum lessons with various teachers during a study visit to New York, the stronghold of jazz.