Strut present the first box set release to bring together the 1970s recordings of The Pyramids, led by Idris Ackamoor. As students at Antioch College, Ohio, alto saxophonist Idris Ackamoor, flautist Margaux Simmons and bass player Kimathi Asante created three lasting monuments in sound – Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth / Speed / Merging, a trio of albums produced without any label backing or distribution between 1972 and 1976. Their music is unique among the varied canon of avant-garde and experimental music of 1970s America: high intensity African-styled percussion topped with songs, chants, and horns, laced with African instruments and arranged into long, flowing suites that surge and roll.
Jazz musicians in the US had long been consciously engaging with African sources, concepts, and instruments, and by the early 1970s, Africa was a central reference point for the music, both sonically and philosophically but, by 1973, relatively few prominent jazz musicians had spent any significant time in Africa. The Pyramids were almost alone among their musical generation in journeying to Africa to expressly absorb the sounds, cultures, places and spaces of the continent. During 1972-3, they embarked on an African trip of several months, to Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt. The experience was both musically and personally transformative and remained a crucial touchstone for their own work.
Their trip to Africa was made possible through the work-study program at Antioch College, where they had been taught by Cecil Taylor; all had been part of his Black Music Ensemble, Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth / Speed / Merging were the remarkable fruits of their progressive education – spiritual unity in sound which remains as vibrant today as ever.
‘Aomawa: The 1970s Recordings’ features fully remastered editions of Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth / Speed / Merging in their original artwork along with the first ever vinyl issue of their live session for KQED TV in 1975. The accompanying 12-page 12”-sized booklet features extended interviews with The Pyramids by Francis Gooding alongside previously unseen photos from the archive of Idris Ackamoor.