About a week after September 11, 2001 (ever to be known as 9/11) I flew into New York City to be a grant panelist for the Rockefeller Foundation’s arts program. Flying into New York the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers could still be seen as an eerie cloud and haze that embraced the site of the attacks. Walking through the streets there were flyers posted everywhere that detailed the names and descriptions of the missing and dead. I sat in a room for the arts panel that gave me a birds eye view of the destruction. This experience of sights, smells, and art in NYC began my European tour of 2001!
Once the panel was over I was off to Paris, France where I was going to make a rendezvous with musicians I had not seen or played with in over twenty years! Trumpet whirlwind, Rasul Siddik, and Bass virtuoso, James Lewis, were a part of my musical life post the dissolution of my renowned band, The Pyramids. During the 80s both James and Rasul left the San Francisco Bay Area for Paris in search of artistic freedom and work. They have been ex-patriots living in Europe ever since. Over the years I stayed somewhat in touch with Rasul and James and when I wanted to put together a band for my next European tour I thought of them.
Arriving in Paris it was a wonderful Reunion! We rehearsed the music in a classic Parisian cellar that James had procured. Ichiro Onoe who is a wonderfully inventive drummer joined us. Rasul was one of the first members of my nascent performing arts company, Cultural Odyssey circa 1980. I introduced him to the theatrical arts and he introduced me to Burkhard Hennen and the Moers New Music Festival in 1980, which really connected me to the European jazz scene once again. James was a part of my 1978 Ensemble that received one of the first California Arts Council touring grants.
Now, here we were many years later in a Parisian cellar, rehearsing, drinking wine, reminiscing and playing my compositions predominately but also some of Rasul’s as well. However, what really gave the music its fire and spirit was the spontaneity that resulted after the “head” of the composition was played. During the solos we would take it anywhere! Everywhere! Nowhere! Somewhere! Just fire breathing, bopping and weaving, hoofing and dreaming! It was a remarkable time. A beautiful time after the tragedy of 9/11. It was as if we were playing to the spirits of all of those departed. “We are here!” Still standing! Still Blowing to the spirits! Stomping and swinging…free spirits one and all!” – Idris Ackamoor, August 8, 2013
released February 4, 2017
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