Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids – An Angel Fell
(Strut 164. CD Review by Peter Jones)
Is there really someone called Idris Ackamoor? Disappointingly, no. His real name is Bruce Baker, and he’s 67 years old. His band The Pyramids formed in 1972 in Ohio and released three albums before splitting up a few years later in San Francisco. After another 35 years, they became aware that vinyl collectors were shelling out vast sums for their spacey, groove-based jazz recordings, and decided to re-form. In 2016 they released a new album, We Be All Africans. And if you like this sort of thing, the new one, recorded in London, is every bit as good as you might hope.
The band describe themselves as cosmic jazz travellers, thus adding further energy to the growing West Coast Afro-futurist-spiritual revival: Kamasi Washington is leading the way, along with the post-Sun Ra Arkestra and veteran LA singer Dwight Trible. But this kind of music has deep roots, and branches that grow in different directions, from John Coltrane and Yusef Lateef to Parliament-Funkadelic. There is also an important political dimension to the movement’s themes of black power and the aspiration for a better world.
An Angel Fell embraces a number of musical styles, including dub reggae (Land of Ra), Afro-Cuban (Sunset), psychedelic rock (Warrior Dance) and free-form jazz (Soliloquy for Michael Brown). But perhaps their most characteristic sound is the sort of repetitive chanting that Sun Ra specialized in: everyone in the band sings, notably on the title track and on Message to My People. The groove is maintained throughout by Skyler Stover on double bass, Bradie Speller on congas and Johann Polzer on drums. Guitarist David Molina plays mostly rhythm, with occasional outbursts of cosmic soloing, but the main melodic duties fall to Ackamoor on saxophone and violinist Sandra Poindexter.
If you would like to see Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids live, you should start making your way to Ulcinj in Montenegro, where they will be appearing between 29 June and 2 July at the Southern Soul Festival.