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Idris Ackamoor

Idris Ackamoor (born Bruce Baker) is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, tap dancer, producer, administrator, and director. He is the Founder, Executive/Co-Artistic Director of the multi-disciplinary San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey. Ackamoor is also the Artistic Director of the world music/jazz ensemble The Pyramids.

He grew up in Chicago, and founded the Pyramids in the early 1970s at Antioch College, Ohio, as part of Cecil Taylor's Black Music Ensemble. They toured Africa in the 1970s, adding musicians and new instruments, before returning to the US and settling in San Francisco. The original group split up in 1977, but Ackamoor has reformed the Pyramids on several occasions.

Ackamoor has been honored with two Lifetime Achievement Awards for his musical and theatrical contributions. The most recent was presented in January 2012 by the BBC radio personality Gilles Peterson at the Worldwide Awards Show in London. In 2003 San Francisco's historic magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, presented Idris with his first. Ackamoor has guided Cultural Odyssey both artistically and administratively since the inception of the organization 35 years ago. He was trained in bookkeeping by the late Ann Weiseltier of L. Ann Weiseltier and Associates as well as by the accounting firm of Swiff, Levy, & Polo. In addition, Ackamoor has extensive grant writing experience and has received training in various technological fields from Bay Area Video Coalition including Final Cut Pro editing and Filmmaking. In 2013 Ackamoor received a James Irvine Foundation Exploring Engagement Fund Award to conduct concerts and music workshops to build the Music is the Healing Force Community Orchestra composed of a diverse array of multicultural and low-income participants culminating in concert presentations in nontraditional arts venues in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau selected Idris twice as an “Arts Envoy”. In his role as an arts ambassador he journeyed to Johannesburg, South Africa conducting residency activities inside the Naturena Women's Prison with his partner Rhodessa Jones. In 2007 Idris Ackamoor conducted his first U.S. Department of State Speakers Tour of Russia where he conducted performances and workshops at University of Moscow, the American Center, and University of Rayzen. Idris has been in the spotlight of late thanks to the renewed interest in his 1970's band The Pyramids, which he re-united and since 2010 has conducted seven whirlwind European tours throughout the continent. In the last three years 12 albums have been released of Ackamoor's music, including the first Pyramids album in over 35 years entitled Otherworldly. In addition, a 3-CD box set was released entitled The Pyramids 1972–1976 – They Play to Make Music Fire. In 2004 Ackamoor released his third CD, Homage to Cuba. In 1999 Ackamoor released his second jazz CD entitled Centurian and in 1998 he recorded and released his first CD, Portrait. Ackamoor has recently received an Individual Artists Award from the San Francisco Cultural Equity Program to compose for the next Pyramids album.

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Album Review

Idris Ackamoor: Afro Futuristic Dreams

Read "Afro Futuristic Dreams" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Uno dei meriti dell'Afrofuturismo (e delle sue diramazioni musicali che includono Afrobeat, Spiritual jazz ed altro) è quello d'aver fatto conoscere, oltre i confini delle comunità afroamericane, artisti come Idris Ackamoor, leader da cinquant'anni del collettivo Pyramids. Com'è noto Chicago, San Francisco e Londra sono i poli di produzione musicale del movimento ed è indicativo ritrovare questi luoghi nel percorso biografico di Ackamoor che parte da Chicago, transita a Parigi (dove nel 1972 fonda The Pyramids, prima ...

Album Review

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: Afro Futuristic Dreams

Read "Afro Futuristic Dreams" reviewed by Chris May

Idris Ackamoor paints on a big canvas, in vivid colours. Listening to the 2023 episode of his multi-decade Afrofuturist odyssey, there are times when he and The Pyramids stir memories of Fela Kuti's Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 bands. At other times, it is Sun Ra's Arkestra. Next up could be an unplugged Funkadelic. And there are moments, when Ackamoor's tenor saxophone engages with Sandra Poindexter's violin, that one is reminded of Frank Lowe's partnership with Billy Bang.

Album Review

Funkwrench Blues: Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures

Read "Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures" reviewed by Chris May

Once upon a time it was hard to walk into an arthouse cinema without bumping into a jazz soundtrack. Miles Davis' for Louis Malle's Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud (1958), Charles Mingus' for John Cassavetes' Shadows (1959), Krzysztof Komeda's for Roman Polanski's Knife In The Water (1962) were among a legion of similarly inclined endeavours. But all that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. In the 2020s, if you want to hear a freshly ...

Radio & Podcasts

Idris Ackamoor, Jasper Hoiby, Die Hochstapler & Monder/Malaby/Rainey

Read "Idris Ackamoor, Jasper Hoiby, Die Hochstapler & Monder/Malaby/Rainey" reviewed by Maurice Hogue

A band that has endured since the 70s when they were one of the first American bands to tour Africa, Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids, have just re-released some of that early music, and we dig into that, plus new music from Germany's Die Hochstapler, Toronto's Luis Deniz, bassist Nicolas Ojeda from Buenos Aires & Jasper Hoiby from England with his Planet B, and a track from Ben Monder, Tony Malaby and Tom Rainey recorded during a live performance in ...

In the Artist's Own Words

On the Road With Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

Read "On the Road With Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids" reviewed by Gioele Pagliaccia

The first time I met Idris Ackamoor was inside of Centro Stabile di Cultura on a Sunday afternoon in November 2018. The organizers at this historical venue in San Vito di Leguzzano, a small village half hour from Vicenza surrounded by foundries and wheat fields, asked me if I could lend my Ludwig Drums to the drummer playing in The Pyramids at the time; as a reward I would watch the show for free and get to meet the band. ...

Album Review

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids: Shaman!

Read "Shaman!" reviewed by Chris May

California-based tenor saxophonist and composer Idris Ackamoor, who has one foot in magical realism and the other in the politicised school of spiritual-jazz, relaunched his 1970s band the Pyramids in 2015. A year later, the group released the acclaimed We Be All Africans, which was followed in 2018 by the equally noteworthy An Angel Fell (both on Strut). Shaman! is the revived Pyramids' third winner in a row. It is also the most ambitious album in Ackamoor's ...


Idris Ackamoor: An Afro-Futurist Odyssey

Read "Idris Ackamoor: An Afro-Futurist Odyssey" reviewed by Chris May

In summer 2020, Idris Ackamoor will release Shaman! on Britain's Strut label. It is his third album with the post-2015 incarnation of his 1970s band, The Pyramids. It reunites Ackamoor with flautist Margaux Simmons, with whom he had co-founded The Pyramids in 1972. Ackamoor's route to Afro-Futurist jazz began in the US in the 1960s, but was fast tracked in 1972, when he and the band, then a trio, began a year travelling and performing in Africa. ...

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Bassist-Producer Frank Swart Releases 'Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures' Featuring Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Bill Evans, Warren Wolf And Idris Ackamoor

Bassist-Producer Frank Swart Releases 'Soundtrack For A Film Without Pictures' Featuring Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Bill Evans, Warren Wolf And Idris Ackamoor

Source: Scott Thompson Public Relations

In his wide-ranging career, bassist, guitarist, arranger, composer, producer, and engineer Frank Swart has contributed to countless sessions covering a wide range of music, from rock and funk to psychedelic acid jazz. In recent times, under the Funkwrench Blues name, he has created and produced 146 singles (at the time of this writing) that have been released once every two weeks, featuring such major artists as Mike Stern, Charlie Hunter, John Medeski, Oz Noy, Fred Wesley, and the late Lucky ...


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Afro Futuristic Dreams

Strut Records



Strut Records


The Call

From: Soundtrack For A Film Without...
By Idris Ackamoor


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