Interview with

Idris Ackamoor / The Pyramids

The Pyramids, founded 1971 at ohio’s Antioch college. There they not only visited the legendary rock churches in Lalibela (ethopia), which lend one of their albums the name, but also lived in ghana and kenya for a while. members included the never resting Idris Ackamoor and his soon-to-become wife, flautist Margo Ackamoor. 2007 saw a highly energetic reunion of the group in the original line-up, which has performed several shows in the bay area now, boosting their trademark sound of massive afrocentric drumming meets ecstatic group improvisations. 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 LA & Clifford King in Chicago and had his own free jazz outfit.

Facts

I am very proud of the fact that I have never had a day job in my life other than being a musician/artist.
I have an incredible love and need to swim in my life, swimming contributes so much to my music and physical stamina.
I work to live, not live to work – (Somebody said this).

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The biggest inspiration for my music has always been my family, in particular my mother and father.  Without their love and support I would not where I am today.  Secondary are the incredible musicians who came before me, in particularly, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Charles Tyler, Clifford King (my teacher), the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, and African Music, as well as Eric Dolphy.

How and when did you get into making music?
I began taking music lessons at the age of 7 years old.  I have been playing music my whole life since then, with the exception of several years during high school when I was a student athlete playing basketball.  Once I got into Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio I began to play my first public concerts and can document live performances from a August 1971 concert by one of my first music groups “The Collective”.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
1. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
2. Cecil Taylor – Conquistador
3. Busi Mhlongo – African Classics
4. The Art Ensemble of Chicago – Nice Guys
5. Dollar Brand – African Piano

What do you associate with Berlin?
I have visited Berlin several times and I associate the city with a lot of arts activity, 24 hour happenings, wide avenues, and a New York kind of pace.

What’s your favourite place in your town?
My favorite place is my neighborhood of the Fillmore. I love it here. This is where I live and it is the historic Jazz area of San Francisco where I can walk to jazz clubs, super markets, and cinemas.  I love to walk to places in my neighborhood.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I would write! I love to write. I would also make films.

What was the last record you bought?
I just brought a record by a South African jazz musician. The record is entitled, “Zimology Volume One”

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would most like to collaborate with Cecil Taylor.

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
My best gig as a performer was in 1972 in Amsterdam at “De Kosmos” with my band “The Pyramids”.  I also had a wonderful performance at the 2000 International Jazz Festival in Nurnberg, Germany with my band “The Idris Ackamoor Ensemble”

How important is technology to your creative process?
Technology takes a back seat in my creative process. I know it is necessary in these times, but my creative process is very “live” and human. I love to just have a wooden floor to tap dance and my instruments surrounding me and then let loose!  My creative process is very physical and requires a  lot of stamina.

Do you have siblings and are they proud or jealous of you?
Technology takes a back seat in my creative process. I know it is necessary in these times, but my creative process is very “live” and human. I love to just have a wooden floor to tap dance and my instruments surrounding me and then let loose!  My creative process is very physical and requires a  lot of stamina.

Our Favourites:  Aomawa (1976) / Nsorama / From : King of Kings (1974) / The Pyramids live at the ZKM
Links:  Facebook / www.culturalodyssey.org | | Interview with Idris Ackamoor / The Pyramids by Digital in Berlin

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