Idris Ackamoor

Hit Parade’s July “Live Rehearsals,” held July 11 – 13th at the Mission, Bayview, and Western Addition branch libraries, featured five San Francisco-based musicians. Together, Idris Ackamoor, Minna Choi, Akheel Mestayer, Diana Gameros, and Marcus Shelby interpreted and re-invented songs composed in honor of the city.


On the saxophone (and a few other instruments) was the legendary Idris Ackamoor. Originally from Chicago, Ackamoor settled in San Francisco in 1970s, after an extensive tour and having founded his first jazz collective, The Pyramids. Max Cole, of the Red Bull Music Academy, writes of the collective:

“The Pyramids and their avant-garde, theatrical performances are part of a long lineage of musicians who used jazz and free improvisation to express a global, humanist music. With one foot firmly in the camp of John and Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Horace Tapscott, and the other in the politically-conscious funk of James Brown and On The Corner era Miles, they captured something of the quest for alternate ways of living in the 70s, as America looked to the stars and ripped up the rule book.” (For more, check out the full piece here).


He later founded the SF-based performance company Cultural Odyssey with frequent collaborator Rhodessa Jones. Ackamoor has received numerous awards – including two lifetime achievement awards – and as we saw during Hit Parade’s Live Rehearsals, is as committed to musical experimentation and innovation as ever.


Here Idris Ackamoor performing with The Pyramids on a 1975 TV special: