|2-CD collection of the ex-leader of legendary Afro-spiritual/deep funk/free jazz group from 1970s Ohio (later in SF), The Pyramids.
Their music is one of the most deep attempts by African-Americans, deep sounds like Strata-East, aggressive performances like Tribe or Black Jazz, every free jazz/funk collectors should agree on it. Featuring 10 pieces of The Pyramids taken from their 3 albums and unreleased (!) recordings (included first live recording in Holland!). Notably The Pyramids had even stayed in African countries like Morocco, Ghana, Kenya & Ethiopia and studied real African culture & music there in the early 1970s. Do you know other African-American jazz musicians who had done such a road trip in early 1970s?
Also featuring never heard pre-Pyramids, P. Sanders & Strata East recording as The Collective, and 4 pieces from the late '70s to '00s, recording as Idris Ackamoor Quartet/Ensemble.
Sixteen pieces in total. Ackamoor owns all original master tapes (it's a miracle!) and we checked them all and compiled their finest & best cuts.
All digitally re-mastered in excellent sound shapes.
This 2CD set includes complete English liner notes written by Ackamoor himself, a bunch of rare photos & session datas etc... it must be one of the best CDs which EM Records has ever produced.
As with every review of a release on EM records, we feel obligated to gush just a little. WHAT AN AMAZING LABEL! Most definitely the coolest reissue label going. Completely off the wall releases dug up and given new life. Amazing packaging, killer liner notes, tons of photos. So much love and passion obviously goes into each and every release we'd almost buy every one regardless of the music. Thankfully, pretty much everything we've heard so far is absolutely amazing, and well deserving of a deluxe reissue treatment.
You may remember a while back we reviewed a 1976 disc from a free jazz ensemble called the Pyramids, whose sound was not just jazz, but a strange swirling mix of Funkadelic, Don Cherry and the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, all with a groovy, funky, spaced out vibe. Chaotic and completely mesmerizing, some of the sounds as we described them in the Pyramids review: "Wild Eastern sounding tribal rhythms, shuffling jazzy post bop, fluttering flutes and skronking horns, chanted vocals, droning buzzing ragas, seventies psychedelic free folk, propulsive krautfunk jams, totally chaotic free jazz, octopoidal drumming, wild shrieking sax and haunting percussive soundscapes"! And those disparate elements were all wrapped up, in and around more traditional sounding African music. Wow! A total revelation for sure.
And it appears to have been a revelation for everyone else as well. There's a massive box set planned for the near future, and then there's this, a sort of career retrospective of Pyramids mainman Idris Ackamoor, drawing equally from the Pyramids albums Lalibela (1973), King Of Kings (1974) and Birth, Speed, Merging (1976), as well as a track a piece from three of Ackamoor's solo albums. As if that weren't already enough, there are six unreleased tracks, over an hour of music! One track from Ackamoor's pre-Pyramids group The Collective, three unreleased Pyramids tracks, one unreleased track from the Idris Ackamoor Quartet and finally a recording of Ackamoor and his wife at the time (1973) playing with King's Drummers Of Tamale, Ghana!!
Disc one is drawn from the earliest years, 1971 to 1974, and is completely mind blowing. Absolute free jazz nirvana! But with plenty of soul and groove. Long long tracks, heavy on the percussion, very tribal and experimental, but still soulful and jazzy. Fluttering flutes drift over dense beds of percussive shimmer, some tracks explode into full on drum solo percussion jams, others drift serenely, while still others careen wildly between the two. Modern ears will of course hear No Neck Blues Band and Sunburned Hand, Avarus and Kemialliset, it's hard not to, after all this is where that sound came from!! Disc one would be worth the price of admission alone, and definitely has us excited to see these whole records reissued in their entirety. But lucky for us there's a whole other disc!
The first two tracks on disc 2 are from Birth, Speed, Merging (1976) and if you don't have it already, these tracks should easily convince you that you absolutely NEED TO OWN IT! Gorgeous long form, slow burning jazz epics, horns skronk and shimmer, the bass is slippery and serpentine, the drums are wild and all over the place, utterly mesmerizing, extended blasts of controlled chaos. So goddamn good. The unreleased track is a killer too. Nearly twenty minutes. The stuff from Ackamoor's solo records is a lot less far out, but still really great, from straight up Bop, to groovy sort of cinematic jazz, to some softer Cuban style jazz (the final track taken from his album Cubana). It's hard to believe a band could be this amazing, and revolutionary and so brilliantly far out and not be spoken of in the same breath as groups like the Art Ensemble and Sun Ra's Arkestra, but here's hoping that this, as well as past and future reissues takes care of that! Absolutely essential!!!!!!
Like all EM releases, the packaging is fantastic. A Japanese style extra thick jewel case, a printed obi as well as a MASSIVE booklet full of rare photos, and liner notes penned by Ackamoor himself, in both English and Japanese! - Aquarius