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Idris Ackamoor’s new show ‘We Live Here’ is a love song to SF music

Idris Ackamoor’s new production is called “We Live Here!” and he’s earned that emphatic exclamation point.

The saxophonist, composer, and jazz impresario spends most of his time performing outside the Bay Area as the pilot of the Pyramids, a theatrical improvisational ensemble that plays long engagements around Europe and the U.S. He works out of town so often that it’s easy to forget that Ackamoor has been based in the Bay Area since the wild and wooly 1970s, when the arts scene brimmed with groundbreaking multimedia collaborations.

Ackamoor was already developing an Afro-futurist aesthetic when he landed in San Francisco fresh out of Ohio’s Antioch College, where he’d absorbed the percussive textures and extended forms of pianist Cecil Taylor’s Black Music Ensemble. Nine months of touring around Africa added drama and ritual to Pyramids performances, which continue to be marked by Afrocentric outfits, chants and percussion processions.

“In traditional cultures there’s hardly any art form that stands alone,” says Ackamoor, who opens a four-night run May 16 at San Francisco’s Brava Theater Center. “The griot will be in costume, we’ll dance, we’ll move. That became the model of the early Pyramids. That’s when we started getting serious about energizing our performances.”

Idris Ackamoor, third from left, brings his theatrical jazz band the Pyramids to the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco to perform his new work “We Live Here!” May 16-19. Courtesy of Idria Ackamoor


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