How does music reflect the times we live in directly or indirectly? They say “Music is a healing force”. Well, the music of my first professional band, The Collective, had a lot to heal for the world of 1971. The times were a’changing! The Vietnam War was raging and on May 4, 1970, four Kent State University students (down the road from Antioch College and the home base of The Collective) were killed and nine injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during a demonstration protesting the Vietnam War. It was barely 3 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Black Panthers Mark Clark and Fred Hampton were gunned down in Chicago on December 4, 1969. All this was happening when I thought to form The Collective in collaboration with Antioch music professor Lester Knibbs and my future wife Margaux Simmons.
The Collective reflected those turbulent times playing music of beauty and healing as well as chaos and intensity. I guess it was appropriate that the other two members were actually renegades from the armed forces. Steve Manicoso on drums and Steve Rumboat on French Horn were both in the air force band stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio and spent their free time in Yellow Springs, Ohio where they could “let their hair down” and escape the rigidity of base life.
Antioch College was a bastion of liberalism in a sea of conservatism. It was a hotbed of anti government, pro communist, political agitators, black separatist, and a drug center for the entire Midwest! What a place to make music in 1971! The Collective preceded my legendary band, The Pyramids, by one year…a year that was as turbulent in the country as it was in my personal life. The extraordinary event that separated the two bands included a tragic personal accident as well as arrival at Antioch of the famous pianist/composer Cecil Taylor and his whole entourage of altoist Jimmy Lyons, percussionist Andrew Cyrille and Clifford Sykes, Dancer Ken Miller, and poet James Thompson. The Cecil Taylor group would be in residency at Antioch for two years!
Through all of 1971 music reigned down like an unending shower that drenched all who were experiencing this magical time with a never to be forgotten creativity and spiritual memory. You might say that The Collective gave birth to The Pyramids. After the dissolution of The Collective, Margaux and myself became devotees of the Cecil Taylor Black Music Ensemble composed of Antioch College music students and others. After being baptized in the fire of Cecil’s remarkable brilliance several months later I went on to submit a proposal to the Antioch College Abroad Program. The proposal’s goal was for Margaux, myself, and a young, crazy electric bass player named Kimathi Asante to travel to Europe, form a band, and then travel throughout Africa. Hence, The Pyramids was born!
Presently there is a lot of attention being paid to the rebirth of The Pyramids! There have been multiple European tours, a plethora of reissues, and new recordings. However, The Collective’s story has NEVER been told and/or heard outside of Ohio until now! Listen to this extraordinary music for the FIRST time. A music still fresh and vibrant after 42 years! – Idris Ackamoor, August 8, 2013
released February 4, 2017
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