Jazz is a beautiful world of music indeed. Here at the vault, we're equally fascinated with the classics as we are with the boundary pushers, the dreamers and the innovators. In this Album Spotlight, we take a closer look at a fresh new addition to our Modern / Future Jazz section and an instant new favourite.
When we first heard Afro Futuristic Dreams by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, it was immediately apparent that we were listening to something truly special. The revolutionary spirit of African American music and its binding nature lives on through the music itself - heartfelt voices, free flowing instrumentation and immensely captivating grooves make up the stellar soundscape that drives the album forward. The message is as strong as ever, as the group addresses issues the band is passionate about with much fervour throughout the 2LP, hour and 14 minute listen.
Artistic Director and Band Leader Idris Ackamoor founded the group The Pyramids in the early 1970s, heavily inspired by the changes in consciousness spurred by the Civil Rights movement and the music of revolutionaries like John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra, and Albert Ayler.. The group was part of Cecil Taylor's Black Music Ensemble and the direction was clear from the very start.
The ensemble geared up for a tour starting in Morocco in December 1972, heading through Senegal for Ghana, and travelling through Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia - a significant point in history for The Pyramids.
"Along the way they experienced at first-hand the ritual power of music and its ability to bind communities together – twin tenets of first-wave Afrofuturist music, which combined science fiction-inspired magical realism with black consciousness-inspired social activism." - The Vinyl Factory
The Pyramids disbanded in 1977, but has been reformed on a fair few occasions now, on a constant quest to venture well into the future. With such strong foundations laid at the height of change, their modern discography truly forges forward with the message and spirit from yesteryear, with a musical and social lens befitting of current times. In recent years, we have been blessed with An Angel Fell (2018) and Shaman! (2020), both of which were eagerly stocked here at the vault.
Fast forward to 2023, we're gifted with a release that rides a wave of interest in the band around their 50th Anniversary. Coming from an ensemble who were right there at the blooming of the Afro Futurist movement, years of spirituality, maturity and understanding are ever present in the music, as the group explores the future, the past and the urgent reality of the present throughout the album.
"Recorded between San Francisco and London and brought together by the genius of Malcolm Catto at his analogue Quatermass Studio, the new recording represents another bold step in Ackamoor’s ever-evolving journey in jazz, adding full, intricate scores including string sections and choral elements to the Pyramids’ trademark spiritual Afro-jazz sound. Driven by the core Pyramids members Ackamoor (sax, keytar, organ), Margaux Simmons (flute), Sandra Poindexter (violin) and Bobby Cobb (guitar), tracks range from hard-hitting commentaries about police brutality (‘Police Dem’) to celebrations of the ancestors and departed loved ones (‘Requiem For The Ancestors’, ‘Re-Memory’) and hazy cosmic journeys, including the album’s title track and the sparkling, experimental closer, ‘Nice It Up’." - Strut Records
Listen to Afro Futuristic Dreams here:
Idris Ackamoor ☥ The Pyramids - Afro Futuristic Dreams is available on our website here.