Alto saxophonist Ackamoor first met Margo Simmons (flute) and Kimathi Asante (electric bass) whilst students together at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio where one of their teachers was renowned pianist, Cecil Taylor. After founding the band in Paris in 1972, performing in Holland and embarking on a “cultural odyssey” across Africa, the group recorded three independent albums (Lalibela in 1973, King Of Kings in 1974 and Birth / Speed / Merging in 1976) and became renowned for their striking live shows, mixing percussive, spiritual and space-age jazz with performance, theatre, and dance. After migrating to San Francisco to perform on the Bay Area arts scene, they disbanded in 1977 after a final show at the UC Berkeley Jazz Festival.
Almost 30 years later, The Pyramids reunited unexpectedly following growing demand for their music from vinyl collectors and jazz fans and embarked on the first of many European tours featuring original members, as well as a fresh line-up including renowned percussionist Kenneth Nash.
Influential jazz collective Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids return with an epic new opus, ‘Shaman!’, featuring a fresh line-up including original 1970s Pyramids member Dr. Margaux Simmons on flute, Bobby Cobb on guitar, long-term associate Sandra Poindexter on violin, Ruben Ramos on bass, Gioele Pagliaccia on drums and Jack Yglesias on percussion. The band transitions from the political and social commentaries of 2018’s acclaimed ‘An Angel Fell’ into more introspective themes. “I wanted to use this album to touch on some of the issues that we all face as individuals in the inner space of our souls and our conscience,” explains Ackamoor. “The album unfolds over four Acts with personal musical statements about love and loss, mortality, the afterlife, family and salvation.”
Evolving around Ackamoor's intricate compositions, the album takes us effortlessly across moods and emotions through a series of expansive, extended pieces. Starting with ritual, soul-searching, and masculine vulnerability on the title track, the band explores timeless existence on ‘Eternity’ and mourns the sudden loss of loved ones in the prescient ‘When Will I See You Again?’, a track which gains new relevance amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. Ackamoor pays tribute to his mentor Cecil Taylor on the angular ‘Theme For Cecil’ and renders homage to the ancestors on ‘Salvation’ and ‘The Last Slave Ship’, recalling the last ship to bring slaves to the US from Africa, the Clotilda. The superb ‘Virgin’ is an anthem of forgiveness, new beginnings and self-healing.
‘Shaman!’ marks another significant landmark in The Pyramids' discography with the band at the peak of their powers. It is produced by Malcolm Catto at his analogue HQ, Quatermass Studio, in London. Cover artwork features an exclusive new painting by Japanese artist Tokio Aoyama.