All of your favorites, in one place.
Founded 40 years ago in 1972, The Pyramids released three albums before splitting up in 1977: Lalibela (1973), King of Kings (1974), and the seminal Birth/Speed/Merging LP (1976). Three albums that made them one of the most mysterious and legendary of all the spiritual cosmic jazz collectives of the early '70s, like the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Sun Ra. "We were way ahead of our time, so we decided to let time catch up." -- Idris Ackamoor. After a highly energetic reunion of the group in 2007, The Pyramids released Otherworldly (DB 159CD), the first Pyramids' album in over 35 years. To complete the story of The Pyramids, Disko B now re-releases these three rare recordings in a triple CD box under the title: They Play to Make Music Fire! The Pyramids 1973-1976. Lalibela was the first album recorded by The Pyramids following their landmark journey throughout Africa as students from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The album is one of the first cutting-edge "concept" albums as each side of the LP seamlessly flows from one composition to the next in the vein of a suite painting a musical portrait of the African adventure experienced by founding members Idris Ackamoor, Margaux Simmons, and Kimathi Asante. Lalibela, Ethiopia was the inspiration for the album. A journey to experience the 12th century rock churches of Lalibela by Margaux and Idris closed out their nine-month African odyssey. The personnel for the recording was augmented by new members percussionist Bradie Speller (Hekaptah), drummer Marcel Lytle, and soprano saxophonist Tony Owens (Masai). The album has plenty percussion driven rhythms, beautiful alto sax and flute melodies, soaring out-there improvisations, ritualistic chants, meditative tone pieces, high energy modal jams, and exotic African instruments collected during the African trip. King of Kings was the second album that reunited all original members including drummer Donald Robinson while adding several special guests, pianist Jerome Sanders, and cellist Chris Chafe. King of Kings was recorded at Appalachia Sound Recording Studio located several hours away from Antioch in Chillicothe, Ohio. Unknown to the band at the time, Chillicothe was the site of ancient Indian burial mounds. This reality added to the very spiritual quality of the recording. The opening track "Mogho Naba" continued the groups' fascination and interest in African history and reflections. The Mogho Naba is the King of the Mossi people in what is now Burkina Faso, but dates back in antiquity. The tune's rhythm is infectious. The use of call and response chants and beautiful horn lines is meant to hypnotize and induce trance elevating spiritual consciousness. "Queen of the Spirits" was written as a dedication to flautist Margaux Simmons. It is one of the bands' favorite pieces of music. Utilizing the Ugandan harp, the African one string fiddle (goge), percussion, piano, and cello, the closing is prescient harking to world music and music for meditation that would come years later. The UK band Bonobo sampled a section of the composition for their hit album Days to Come. Birth/Speed/Merging represents the San Francisco Bay Area era of the band. Relocating from Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1974, The Pyramids quickly met other musicians in the thriving San Francisco Bay Area music scene. After the departure of original member Kimathi to continue his African studies a very talented acoustic bass player named Heshima Mark Williams joined the band along with a new conga player named Mcheza Ngoma and new drummer Augusta Lee Collins. The Pyramids began working extensively around the area. Within the next year Kimathi returned from his travels and rejoined the band. The Pyramids now had two bass players; one acoustic and one electric. The composition "Jamaican Carnival" pays homage to the beautiful Caribbean island Jamaica and is one of the bands' most danceable tunes. For the composition "Birth/Speed/Merging Suite" the band utilized the brilliant percussionist Kenneth Nash to play on the track and it is one of the bands' most interesting and exotic compositions. There are a variety of unusual and beautiful percussion and string instruments used on the track featuring the Ugandan Harp, the Chinese Cheng, and a string instrument called the rosenbow. The composition is an aural delight of unusual sounds and beautiful colors. The box comes with a booklet and video of the band.