A two day residency of "Deeply spiritual Afro psychedelic music" from The Pyramids!
Idris Ackamoor - alto saxophone and percussion; Kenneth Nash - drum set, vocals and percussion; Kimathi Asante - electric bass and percussion; Kash Killion - acoustic bass, Sarangi and percussion; Bradie Speller - congas and percussion
At the dawn of the 1970s, saxophonist Idris Ackamoor, flautist Margo Simmons and bassist Kimathi Asante were embedded in the radical artistic hotbed of Ohio's Antioch College. Idris Ackamoor had cut his teeth with Albert Ayler's alto player Charles Tyler in Los Angeles and had his own free jazz outfit called “The Collective” with Margo Simmons and three other Ohio musicians; Kimathi Asante had played in a handful of obscure acid rock bands before being tapped by Sonny Sharrock's “Brute Force” but like many of the musicians caught up in the gestalt at Antioch, it was under the tutelage of Cecil Taylor and participation in his 40 member Black Music Ensemble that Idris, Kimathi and Margo began to galvanize a vision of the free black music they would soon play as The Pyramids.
Young, vital and filled with an insatiable wanderlust, the trio set sail in 1972 for a year long cultural odyssey through the heart of Africa by way of the fertile expatriate cultures of Paris and Amsterdam. Kimathi suggested the name while they were in France: “The Pyramids”. The group liked its evocation of the symbolic monuments of African and Egyptian culture. Steadfast and timeless. After numerous performances throughout Holland and France the group headed for an amazing journey throughout Africa where they had the rare opportunity to study and play with Alhassan Ibrahim and the King's drummers of Tamale, Ghana. In Nairobi, Kenya the group made treks to the countryside to study, experience, and record the music of the Masai and Kikuyu tribes.
The Pyramids returned home with a name, a sound, a look and a singular vision that infused their high-energy fire music with hypnotizing Pan-African melodies, propulsive polyrhythms and a deeply spiritual Afro psychedelic music. In the span of just over 5 years together, The Pyramids cut three stunning independently produced albums including "Lalibela" (1973), "King of Kings" (1974), and "Birth/Speed/Merging" (1976) that drew heavily upon their shared experiences abroad. As well, the band migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area and became a local phenomenon in the avant-garde jazz musical community.
By 1977, after a performance at the UC Berkeley Jazz Festival the group had disbanded.
Now, close to 40 years since the founding of the group, The Pyramids have been “rediscovered” and in the past nine months the band has toured Europe three times performing with original and new members at major jazz festivals, concert venues, and clubs throughout the continent! In a spectacular comeback the band has performed at Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Enjoy Jazz Festival in Heidelberg, Germany, Berlin’s leading theatre Volksbühne, ÜberJazz Festival in Hamburg, Prague’s Palac Acropolis, Worldwide Festival in Séte, France and the Dutch State X Festival. The Pyramids just have been signed to Disko B Records in Munich for a two-record deal. Disco B Records will release their recently produced album, “Otherworldly”.
"THEY PLAY TO MAKE MUSIC FIRE! THEY PLAY TO MAKE THE SOUL BURST FROM THE BODY!"
IDRIS ACKAMOOR is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of The Pyramids. He is also the Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the internationally recognized multidisciplinary San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey. Idris is an alto saxophonist, percussionist, tap dancer, composer, producer and actor and has performed and collaborated with saxophonists Chico Freeman and John Tchicai, drummer Famoudou Don Moye (of “Art Ensemble of Chicago”-fame), choreographer/dancer Bill T. Jones, writer Ntozake Shange, his longtime partner actress Rhodessa Jones, and many others. A collection of his music documenting more than 30 years of his career has been released on the Japanese EM label (The Music of Idris Ackamoor 1971 - 2004). Other albums under his own name include "Homage to Cuba" (2004), "Centurian" (1999) and "Portrait" (1998).
KIMATHI ASANTE is a founding member of The Pyramids and has a long and varied artistic experience starting as a vocalist in church and school ensembles and choirs in the early and mid 1960's. He began formal instrumental training in junior high school studying trombone, string bass and tuba. While in junior high he competed and was awarded in statewide competition as a vocal soloist and member of male vocal ensemble. In later years Kimathi began performing with local folk rock and blues bands as a bass guitarist. In 1969, he was a member of Brute Force, a spiritual jazz/R&B group located in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Brute Force recorded an album on the Atlantic Records subsidiary Embryo which was produced by Herbie Mann, toured the Midwest, and performed at the Village Gate in New York City. It was during this time he met and performed with guitarist Sonny Sharrock who was to have a dramatic influence on the style of his electric bass playing. During the summer of 1972, Kimathi Asaante played in a duet performance with the renowned pianist Cecil Taylor in concert at Antioch College.
BRADIE SPELLER is an original member of The Pyramids and is a master percussionist and rhythm programmer. As a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio Bradie became part of the historic Cecil Taylor Black Music Ensemble, which taught and performed at Antioch College from 1971 - 1973. Bradie was an integral member of the rhythm section and learned at the feet of pianist, Cecil Taylor, drummer Andrew Cyrille and saxophonist Jimmy Lyons. The avant-garde style of jazz and classical music propelled by Taylor was Bradie's entry point into the universe of live music, where he excelled. Bradie subsequently "cracked the musical code" and was tuned into the new developments of fusion sounds being created by former Miles Davis protégées Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea. In November 1973, he was asked to sit in with the then high-flying "super group" Weather Report, where he became a local favorite for the band when they toured the Midwest.
KASH KILLION is a San Francisco based Sarangi player, cellist, bassist, vocalist, and composer, who began his professional music career at age ten. Kash is a visionary musician who stretches the boundaries of what one would expect from string instruments. He hears the cello as a bass, a violin, a guitar, a saxophone, and a piano, and he seeks to share that with his listeners. He strives to put the sarangi and other string instruments in unusual situations and play any style of music and make it sound authentic. Kash has recorded and/or performed with Sun Ra Arkestra, Cecil Taylor, Bobby Hutcherson, Pharoah Sanders, and Francisco Aquabella. Kash also has a deep interest in world music. He studied with the great Indian musician, Ali Akbar Khan, and recorded with his orchestra. He has also studied with the great masters Sultan Khan and Rhamish Mishra. Kash received a BA from Antioch University in Performance and Musical Composition and has continued his musical career with recordings, live performances, collaborations, workshops, private classes and teaching.
KENNETH NASH is creating some of today's most rhythmically compelling music. Kenneth has performed or recorded on hundreds of records with such artists as Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Ahmad Jamal, Bobby Hutcherson, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Bobby McFerrin and many others. Breaking out into a superbly syncopated realm all his own, this accomplished musician, composer, producer, arranger and author is building bridges of sound with compositions that unite numerous forms and idioms. Fusing jazz, pop and world-music elements, he creates an effervescent brand of music. The impact of his music is as refreshing as the compositions themselves. His sounds pay no heed to formulas; crossing cultural and international boundaries. Kenneth Nash heads up Nash Studio and Production Company and KENADE Music Publishing Company, in which he has produced and created a wide variety of musical productions for himself and artists and companies in the US and in Europe since 1981.