Chris Daly is more versatile than a Swiss Army knife.
Idris Ackamoor is at it again. As if composing, acting, tap dancing, producing, directing, and working as a musical envoy for the U.S. government weren’t enough to keep the legendary tenor saxophonist from Cali busy, he’s reformed his 1972 band, The Pyramids, yet again, and with an almost entirely new line-up. The band is getting ready to release An Angel Fell, his second album in as many years, and perhaps the best entry into cosmic jazz you’re going to hear landing in 2018. In anticipation of the May 11th release on Strut Records, Ackamoor has dropped album closer, “Sunset,” which Passion of the Weiss is honored to premier today.
At six musicians strong, the Pyramids here produce an eight-track, hour-long foray into the outer reachings of groove, falling somewhere between Sun Ra and Fela Kuti. The band excels in polyrhythmic jams that incorporate everything from free jazz to hip hop, with obvious African and Caribbean influences throughout. The album covers a raft of issues, from racial violence (the stellar “Soliloquy for Michael Brown”) to racial equality (“Message to My People”), but the tone is never heavy handed.
While deep topics are addressed, they are done with a musical mastery that makes them far more palatable to digest than a lecture ever could hope to. Bouncing between straight instrumentals and sparse choral arrangements, Ackamoor is nothing if not an expert at making his point that if we all could just come together, the groove most definitely could set us free.
In addition to being the perfect album ending, “Sunset” is a lazy, airy jam that spirals into cosmic slop in the truest, Funkadelic sense of the phrase. The looping lyrics describe a beautiful evening on the shore with a spectacularly brilliant, colorful sunset as the backdrop, interpreting it as “a prayer to save the world.”
Ackamoor’s sax, which clearly is reaching for the heavens here, plays beautifully with the rollicking percussion and strings, resulting in a beach-like outing that is both timeless and somehow all the Pyramids’ own. Mark May 11th on your calendar now. The Mother Ship most definitely will be stopping by, and this is one trip you do not want to miss.